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This section of SustainabiliTank.info – REAL WORLD’S NEWS – will be carrying short notes with information not based on the daily press of the United States.

We will not attempt here to write lengthy articles, neither will we editorialize on why the information did not see light in the US.

If readers find other material relevant to sustainable development that was not published, please forward it to us at: Submissions@SustainabiliTank.info


 
Real World’s News:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Middle East

Can the Middle East Redraw Itself?

 

11

 

Amre Moussa, the former Arab League head from Egypt, is calling for a Middle Eastern equivalent of the 1814 Congress of Vienna, in which Europe’s great powers established a new order to prevent wars between empires following the defeat of Napoleon. Admittedly, Moussa quickly backtracked to say the plan couldn’t initially include Iran, Turkey or Israel, making it really just another Arab League meeting. Still, I think he’s onto something.

For years, the people of the Middle East have complained that the U.S. and Europe treat it as a kind of colonial playground, while the West has moaned the region must take more responsibility to regulate and provide security for itself. This week, reports of United Arab Emirates airstrikes in Libya, launched from airstrips in Egypt, suggest that is beginning to happen — but in precisely the wrong way. The airstrikes pit the more secular client of one Persian Gulf state, UAE, against Islamists supported by another, Qatar.

This is a recipe for a long and bloody civil war in Libya, at a time when the Middle East is imploding and the U.S. is no longer willing or able to police it alone. Divisions among the Sunni states and an expanding proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia have already resulted in a vortex of human suffering and instability in Syria that has spawned the Islamic State.

So Moussa’s idea of a congress “emanating from the Middle East” itself, rather than from the U.S. or Europe, and focused on how to ensure stability in the region makes sense. As a model, the Congress of Vienna has an attractive echo for the Middle East’s monarchies and dictators, as it was designed mainly by conservative autocrats as they sought ways to contain the subversive republican fervor unleashed by the French revolution. Old regime leaders in the Middle East see the Arab Spring in much the same light.

“We are talking about a major change in the Middle East,” Moussa said at a conference I’m attending this week in Salzburg, Austria, on lessons to be drawn from the Vienna Congress and the outbreak of World War I, hosted by the International Peace Institute and the Salzburg Global Seminar. “We have to discuss this like grownups: What are we going to do when this wave of change comes to its end?”

The Congress of Vienna was also used to redraw the map of Europe after the Napoleonic wars, and then fix borders and establish a mechanism to agree on changes. In this light, Moussa was adamant that proposals to break up Iraq along sectarian lines would be infectious and disastrous for the region. A deal in in which the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia guaranteed the non-violation of borders is appealing.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. For one thing, Iran and Saudi Arabia are involved in what they see as a zero-sum contest for power, and a meaningful agreement between them seems fantastical: The empires of Europe were driven to reconciliation only after nearly 20 years of defeats forced them to learn the value of alliance. Indeed, while Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal, also in Salzburg, supported Moussa’s idea, his focus was on how to create a united Arab front toward Iran — a poor starting point if the goal is to reconcile Iranian and Saudi interests

So long as the focus is on getting the Arab house in order, this is unlikely to get anywhere. A more serious attempt would focus not on Arab identity but on who needs to be at the table so that any deal that is reached would be meaningful. At a minimum, that means Iran, Israel and Turkey must be present. Inviting the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to facilitate and hold the ring would also be smart. It’s crazy, and it’s worth a try.

 

To contact the author: Marc Champion at  Bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at  bloomberg.net

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From James Snifen, UNEP

UNEP Targets Innovative Learning to Reduce Disaster Risk Worldwide.

More than 1,000 risk and disaster experts, practitioners and government officials from over 100 countries convene in Davos this week to tackle the growing challenge of disaster risk.

DAVOS, Switzerland, 26 August 2014 – In the past decade, natural disasters have cost over 1.2 million lives and economic losses have continued to skyrocket. Projections indicate that damages from disasters will climb up to US$400 billion per year and with climate change expected to worsen these impacts, identifying innovative solutions and responses has become an urgent priority.

This week at the 5th Annual International Disaster Risk Conference (IDRC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) unveiled its latest effort to build resilience to this global challenge. UNEP is launching the first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) focusing on how to minimize disaster risk through “natural” or ecosystem-based solutions.

Ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and reefs often provide valuable protection against natural hazards like avalanches and flooding. They also supply vital services such as food, fuel and shelter following a disaster event. Yet limited awareness of the services offered by ecosystems and false perceptions on their effectiveness as a tool for disaster risk reduction is preventing concrete action.

“In order to bring disaster losses under control, we need more skills, scale and speed in our disaster risk reduction efforts. This MOOC improves access at a global scale by enabling people to learn directly from experts and practitioners how to apply ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation in their own communities,” said Dr. Muralee Thummarukudy, Senior Manager for Disaster Risk Reduction at UNEP.

This MOOC will also broaden awareness on the different tools available beyond concrete or engineered solutions by demonstrating how climate change, disasters and the environment are linked. It exposes participants to a range of tools for eco-disaster risk reduction and adaptation. With over 20 hours of video lectures, guest lectures from world leaders and real-life case studies, the MOOC targets policy-makers and decision-makers, practitioners, experts and the wider public.

Today, UNEP and the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) are also hosting an interactive panel discussion on “Bridging disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation through ecosystems management.” The panel aims to demonstrate through field projects how ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation are building resilience in communities worldwide.

 

The MOOC is the result of a collaboration between UNEP and the Centre for Natural Resources and Development, a consortium of 11 universities from around the world that is coordinated by the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (CUAS), Germany.

Further details on UNEP’s disaster risk reduction programme are available at www.unep.org/disastersandconflicts/Introduction/DisasterRiskReduction/tabid/104159/Default.aspx

The Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) is a global alliance of UN agencies, NGOs and specialist institutes; see www.pedrr.org

The International Disaster Risk Conference is a major biennial forum on disaster risk; see www.idrc.info

 

For more information, please contact:

UNEP Newsdesk, Nairobi, Kenya: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Cassidy Travis, Communications Advisor, UNEP Post-Conflict & Disaster Management Branch: +41 22 917 8839 or Cassidy.travis@unep.org

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On this website we believe that the qualifier “Natural Disasters” is Unnecessary and misleading.These are disasters – All-Right – but there is nothing Natural with them.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ISIS is to America as Hamas is to Israel

by Alan M. Dershowitz

President Barak Obama has rightfully condemned the ISIS beheading of American James Foley in the strongest terms.  This is what he said:

“There has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of the kind of a nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is group like (ISIS) has no place in the 21st century.  Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security a set of values opposite of what we saw yesterday. We will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and stability.”

At the same time that President Obama has called for an all-out war against the “cancer” of ISIS, he has regarded Hamas as having an easily curable disease, urging Israel to accept that terrorist group, whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, as part of a Palestinian unity government.  I cannot imagine him urging Iraq, or any other Arab country, to accept ISIS as part of a unity government.

Former President Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu have gone even further, urging the international community to recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a political party and to grant it diplomatic recognition.  It is hard to imagine them demanding that the same legitimate status be accorded ISIS.

Why then the double standard regarding ISIS and Hamas?  Is it because ISIS is less brutal and violent than Hamas?  It’s hard to make that case.  Hamas has probably killed more civilians—through its suicide bombs, its murder of Palestinian Authority members, its rocket attacks and its terror tunnels—than ISIS has done.  If not for Israel’s Iron Dome and the Israeli Defense Forces, Hamas would have killed even more innocent civilians.  Indeed its charter calls for the killing of all Jews anywhere in the world, regardless of where they live or which “rock” they are hiding behind.  If Hamas had its way, it would kill as least as many people as ISIS would.

Is it the manner by which ISIS kills?  Beheading is of course a visibly grotesque means of killing, but dead is dead and murder is murder.  And it matters little to the victim’s family whether the death was caused by beheading, by hanging or by a bullet in the back of a head.  Indeed most of ISIS’s victims have been shot rather than beheaded, while Hamas terrorists have slaughtered innocent babies in their beds, teenagers on the way home from school, women shopping, Jews praying and students eating pizza.

Is it because ISIS murdered an American?  Hamas has murdered numerous Americans and citizens of other countries.  They too are indiscriminate in who they kill.

Is it because ISIS has specifically threatened to bring its terrorism to American shores, while Hamas focuses its terrorism in Israel?  The Hamas Charter does not limit its murderous intentions to one country.  Like ISIS it calls for a worldwide “caliphate,” brought about by violent Jihad.

Everything we rightly fear and despise from ISIS we should fear and despise from Hamas.  Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas—at the very least until it rescinds its charter and renounces violence.  Unfortunately that is about as likely as America rescinding its constitution.    Violence, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are the sine qua non of Hamas’ mission.

Just as ISIS must be defeated militarily and destroyed as a terrorist army, so too must Hamas be responded to militarily and its rockets and tunnels destroyed.

It is widely, and in my view mistakenly, argued by many academics and diplomats that there can never be a military solution to terrorism in general or to the demands of Hamas in particular.  This conventional wisdom ignores the lessons of history.  Chamberlain thought there could be a diplomatic solution to Hitler’s demands.  Churchill disagreed.  History proved Churchill correct.  Nazi Fascists and Japanese militarists had to be defeated militarily before a diplomatic resolution could be achieved.

So too with ISIS and Hamas.  They must first be defeated militarily and only then might they consider accepting reasonable diplomatic and political compromises.  Another similarity between ISIS and Hamas is that if these terrorist groups were to lay down their arms, there might be peace, whereas if their enemies were to lay down their arms, there would be genocide.

A wonderful cartoon illustrates this:  at one end of the table is Hamas demanding “death to all the Jews!”  At the other end is Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.  In the middle sits the mediator, who turns to Netanyahu and asks:  “Can’t you at least come half way?”

No democratic nation can accept its own destruction.  We cannot compromise—come half way—with terrorists who demand the deaths of all who stand in the way of their demand for a Sunni caliphate, whether these terrorists call themselves ISIS or Hamas.  Both are, in the words of President Obama, “cancers” that must be extracted before they spread.  Both are equally malignant.  Both must be defeated on the battlefield, in the court of public opinion and in the courts of law.  There can be no compromise with bigotry, terrorism or the demand for a caliphate.  Before Hamas or ISIS can be considered legitimate political partners, they must give up their violent quest for a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

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What Barack Obama Can Learn from Richard Nixon on Israel and Foreign Policy.

August 26, 2014  -  3 comments

Richard Nixon and Barack Obama are rarely compared.  But the way these two presidents have dealt with crises in the Middle East provides instructive contrasts on the nature of leadership.

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Nixon, a man more associated with skullduggery than leadership.  But in October 1973, when his Vice President was resigning in disgrace and the congressional investigation into his own misconduct was moving to its fatal conclusion, Nixon demonstrated how a leader can take command, master events, and shape history.

His example provides a contrast to the current President, whose concept of leadership involves “leading from behind.”  To the extent it involves taking initiative, it is the initiative of “avoiding doing stupid shit.”

President Obama has not abandoned Israel, nor has he declared himself neutral in its current struggle against Hamas. But time after time, he has undercut Israel’s position, in an effort to curry favor with a hostile world.

His Secretary of State tried to involve Turkey and Qatar, two implacable foes of Israel, in the cease-fire negotiations, even though their financial support enabled Hamas to amass the missiles and build the tunnels that threaten Israel. After an Israeli shell landed close to a UNRWA school in Rafah, his Administration joined the global anti-Israel chorus. Before any investigation could be conducted, the State Department immediately declared itself “appalled” by Israel’s “disgraceful” act – even though Hamas rockets have been found in UNRWA schools at least three times, and even though the U.S. armed forces conducted similar attacks against schools used by hostile forces in Afghanistan. (The Israeli 4-year old boy killed on Friday was the victim of a missile fired from a site near a UNRWA school.)

Most disturbing, Obama’s White House has recently changed the military-to-military relationship by which American weaponry has been transferred to Israel, to require White House and State Department approval. Now these are U.S. weapons, and it is of course up to the U.S. government to set the protocols for their transfer. But to change the rules so abruptly, while Israel is under daily bombardment, is unprecedented.

Once again, it represented the Obama Administration’s tendency to placate the world, rather than stand by a lonely ally. This emerges from an observation by a “senior Obama Administration official” to the Wall Street Journal:

“We have many, many friends around the world. The United States is their strongest friend,” the official said. “The notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world.”

In other words, the Administration was telling Israel by these leaked remarks: We have many friends.  You do not. Don’t ever forget it.

Sniping at friends to placate their enemies is not leadership. It is not even shrewdness. The United States has won no new friends from undercutting Israel.

To see a different kind of leadership, travel back in time and consider the performance of Richard Nixon in October 1973.

Israel faced a military crisis. Egypt and Syria, backed by nine Arab states and lavishly supplied by the Soviet Union, attacked on Yom Kippur. Israeli forces were thrown back in the Sinai and on the Golan Heights. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan told Prime Minister Golda Meir that Israel faced imminent defeat. The situation was so dire, that the Israeli government considered resorting to a last ditch nuclear option.

In this crisis situation, Richard Nixon ordered a massive airlift of military supplies to Israel. During a 32-day period beginning October 14, jumbo U.S. military aircraft touched down in Israel 567 times, delivering some 22,300 tons of material.

Conducting such an operation was a complicated task. Then, as now, Israel was not popular on the international scene. Fearful of the Arabs’ oil weapon, NATO allies refused to allow U.S. transport planes to refuel in their countries – even while NATO members Turkey and Greece were allowing Soviet supply planes to overfly their territory. Ultimately, the U.S. managed to pressure Portugal to allow landing in the Azores for refueling.

Meanwhile, in Washington, bureaucratic hurdles threatened to delay the airlift. Nixon took charge personally. White House counsel Leonard Garment recalled:

It was Nixon who did it. I was there. As [bureaucratic bickering between the State and Defense departments] was going back and forth, Nixon said, “This is insane….He just ordered Kissinger, Get your [behind] out of here and tell those people to move. “

Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, concerned by the reaction of the Arabs and Soviets to the airlift, advised sending just three transports. Nixon responded: “We are going to get blamed just as much for three as for 300…Get them in the air, now.”

Nixon worked closely with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the airlift. When Kissinger gave him a list of the type and quantity of weaponry sought by the Israeli military, Nixon ordered him to double it, then added: “Now get the hell out of here and get the job done.” Informed of a delay caused by disagreements in the Pentagon over which planes to use, Nixon shouted at Kissinger: “[Expletive] it, use every one we have. Tell them to send everything that can fly.”

The airlift helped turn the tide. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat proposed a ceasefire enforced by Soviet and U.S. troops on the ground. The U.S. rejected the proposal. Soviet leader Brezhnev then threatened to send Russian troops to the Middle East unilaterally. Nixon ordered that U.S. military to be put on high alert. Air Force strike units were prepared for attack, and two aircraft carriers were deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean. Brezhnev backed down.

Richard Nixon neither sought nor received any political gain for his decisive leadership. The Watergate investigation intensified, culminating in his resignation ten months later. American Jews, who voted overwhelmingly for Humphrey in 1968 and McGovern in 1972, remained, and remain today, hostile to the man.

But Golda Meir never forgot Nixon’s leadership. For the rest of her life she referred to him as “my president.” She once said, in tones reminiscent of the Passover haggadah: “For generations to come, all will be told of the miracle of the immense planes from the United States bringing in the material that meant life to our people.”

It is doubtful that any Israeli, of any political persuasion, will ever remember Barack Obama as “my president.”

It is also doubtful that friends of the United States in other parts of the globe will remember him that way. When Iranian populists remember Obama, they are likely to remember him as the President who reached out to the regime’s theocratic dictators, but failed to support the courageous demonstrators of the Green Revolution. When the Poles and Czechs remember Obama, they are likely to recall him as the President who reneged on the promise to build a missile defense shield in Europe, to avoid irritating the Russians.  When Ukrainians remember Obama, they are likely to recall him as the President who, after the non-irritated Russians annexed the Crimea, responded by airlifting, not weapons, but 300,000 ready-to-eat meals.

The irony of leadership is that it often proves a more effective tool to win over foes than supplication.  Obama’s forbearance has won the United States no points from Russia or Iran, or any of our other opponents.  It has only disappointed our friends. In contrast, Richard Nixon steadfastly supported Israel during wartime – and was lionized by Egyptians in the aftermath of that war after brokering a ceasefire.

In June 1974, just weeks before his resignation, Nixon visited Egypt and rode in an open railway car from Alexandria to Cairo with President Sadat. An estimated 6 million Egyptians lined the route, cheering him. Sadat saluted Nixon with these words:

Since the 6th of October, and since the change that took place in the American foreign policy, peace is now available in the area. And President Nixon never gave a word and didn’t fulfill it; he has fulfilled every word he gave.

Richard Nixon was a man of many flaws, not least of which was a strong strain of anti-Semitism. But he was also a leader. The current President, driven to make America liked again, may have more charity in his heart, but he has far less spinal fluid in his backbone.

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Lawrence J. Siskind is a San Francisco attorney, who blogs on issues of politics, foreign policy, law, and culture, at ToPutItBluntly.com.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

August 25, 2014

To: Listings/Critics/Features
From: Jazz Promo Services
Press Contact: Jim Eigo, jim@jazzpromoservices.com
www.jazzpromoservices.com

 

For the eleventh consecutive year, on a glorious end-of-summer night, the intersection of Wall and North Front Streets in Kingston will become “The Jazz Corner of Upstate New York.” Once again, in an evening of music that should not be missed, the Wall Street Jazz Festival presents an array of some of today’s finest jazz artists – pianist Laura Dubin’s trio, saxophonist Virginia Mayhew’s quintet, pianist Roberta Piket’s sextet, plus two all-star ensembles featuring saxophonists “Sweet” Sue Terry and Claire Daly, singers Jay Clayton and Teri Roiger, pianist (and the festival’s Artistic Director) Peggy Stern, among others. For many years now, this annual event has been one of the highlights of my summer, an exciting and engaging way to enjoy the music I love in an elegant, intimate, and inviting setting. 

The Wall Street Jazz Festival, “where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women,” it’s happening Saturday, August 30, from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. in Kingston, NY – and it’s all free!

www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com/home.html

 

Bob Bernotas, Host of “Just Jazz,” Sunday nights, 10:00 p.m-3:00 a.m. at

www.wnti.org

 

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Zephyr Teachout teaches at Fordham Law School. She is the former National Director of the Sunlight Foundation and Director of Online Organizing for Howard Dean’s Campaign. She is a Board Member of Public Campaign Action Fund and Fight for the Future.

She wrote: “In a blog post this week, Former White House Counsel Bob Bauer critiqued an essay I wrote recently entitled “Constitutional Purpose and the Anti-Corruption Principle.” The basic argument of my essay is that the global purposes of the Constitution should be relevant in making hard Constitutional decisions. We ought look beyond the purposes of particular clauses and to the Constitution as a whole when making sense of the application of particular clauses. As I point out in the essay, Courts already do this: they interpret clauses to be consistent with the global principle of Separation of Powers, for instance, even though there is no “Separation of Powers” clause. Therefore, given the strong historical evidence that anti-corruption concerns were as fundamental as any other at the Constitutional convention, anti-corruption concerns should get significant constitutional weight when interpreting other clauses, like the First Amendment.

She was a Professorial adviser to “Occupy Wall Street” – and that is why we make the connection here.

N.Y. / Region

Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

By

 

There she was, Prof. Zephir Teachout of Fordham University, just to the right of the stage, waving her arms furiously, hoping that the event’s host, Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, would see her and give her a shout-out. No such luck; a tall security guard was in the way.

As Zephyr Teachout was leaving the gospel concert in East Flatbush, a man in a wheelchair called out, “Who are you?” Ever eager, she explained that she was running as a progressive against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

The man, won over, pointed to a homemade campaign button pinned to Ms. Teachout’s jacket. “Can I have your button?” he asked. She gladly obliged.

———————————————————-

Just a few months ago, Ms. Teachout was a popular Fordham University law professor with ties to Occupy Wall Street and a keen interest in political corruption. But after the liberal Working Families Party approached her to run against Mr. Cuomo — before it arrived at a bitterly contested decision to stick by the governor — Ms. Teachout decided, with the encouragement of other liberal activists, to mount her own long-shot campaign.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout, a candidate for governor, gave away her campaign button to a potential supporter this month after a gospel concert in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Yes, she knows that few New Yorkers have heard of her. Yes, she knows that she will not have enough money for television ads. And yes, she knows that her best shot at statewide exposure — a debate with Mr. Cuomo — is unlikely. Still, she insists that she is gaining momentum, and is zestily campaigning with a kind of cynicism-free optimism that makes her a sunny surprise.

“I didn’t know politics would be this much fun!” she beamed after a South Asian festival in Queens a week ago.

Privately, Ms. Teachout’s admirers say that her campaign has already succeeded, by forcing Mr. Cuomo to embrace more liberal causes. If she gets more than 25 percent in the Sept. 9 primary, some argue, then Mr. Cuomo might need to worry about liberal angst heading into a general election against the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

Ms. Teachout does not pretend that her task will be easy. But she said the worst that could happen would be that she got only 1 percent of the vote, and that she became known as an idealistic but politically naïve professor.

“We’re underdogs, we know that, but we’re serious underdogs,” she said at a house party near her apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Ms. Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, talked about winning over the small number of Democrats who actually vote in primaries.

They hope to tap into disillusionment or even anger with Mr. Cuomo among teachers, public employees and upstate residents opposed to hydraulic fracturing.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout speaking at a cocktail party in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where she currently resides. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

“In the face of Andrew Cuomo’s silence, I am being loud,” she said in Fort Greene.

Mr. Cuomo has not publicly mentioned Ms. Teachout by name, and his campaign has declined to comment on her candidacy.

Still, avid Democrats are getting to know her. A Vermont native, Ms. Teachout, 42, worked as a death penalty lawyer in North Carolina and co-founded an organization intent on breaking up Wall Street banks. The author of a coming book on political corruption, she is on track for tenure at Fordham early next year.

Her most formative political experience came in 2003, when she became the director of online organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign.

“She was terrific; she was hard-working,” Mr. Dean said during a 10th-anniversary celebration that Ms. Teachout attended for Democracy for New York City, a Dean-inspired group.

She often mentions two United States senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio — as role models. She also raves about State Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx and Letitia James, the New York City public advocate.

She even buys into the anti-“crony capitalism” message, if not the prescription, of Dave Brat, the Virginia professor and Tea Party upstart who defeated Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader, in the Republican primary in June.

Photo

 
Ms. Teachout tried on a sari this month at the Chatpati Mela festival in Jackson Heights, Queens. She spoke with the vendors about the challenges of running small businesses. Credit Andrew Renneisen/The New York Times

Like Mr. Brat, Ms. Teachout has little money. But contributions have increased so much since Mr. Cuomo unsuccessfully tried to kick her off the ballot that a highly targeted online advertising campaign is planned. She has a paid staff of about 10, and shares a cramped office in Midtown Manhattan with lawyers, real estate brokers and a casting company.

On the trail, she often asks people what they want in a governor. She has also honed a stump speech, talking about her unusual name (yes, that is her first name, and her last name is Dutch), then touching on public schools, small businesses, transportation and infrastructure.

“In my vision we can have an economy and a democracy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” she said at a street fair outside the Bronx Zoo a week ago, eliciting a few “that’s right” replies.

To get around, Ms. Teachout usually takes public transportation or relies on rides from volunteers, especially when she travels to Ithaca, Binghamton and other areas to fire up “fractivists.” One afternoon she spent $65 to take five people, including an aide and an independent filmmaker, from the Bronx to Queens by livery cab.

Things do not always go according to plan.

At the Chatpati Mela celebration in Jackson Heights, for example, she could not distribute any campaign literature (black-and-white photocopies) or speak onstage — it was a strictly nonpartisan affair.

Unfazed, she talked excitedly with vendors until she stumbled upon some Bangladeshis selling saris. After hearing about the travails of establishing small businesses, she bought an orange one for $20, and tried it on.

“Should I wear this to my debate with Governor Cuomo?” she joked.

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A version of this article appears in print on August 25, 2014, on page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Cuomo Opponent Unbowed by Underdog Status.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

SundayReview | Opinion

The Climate Swerve.

By ROBERT JAY LIFTON,  The New York Times,

AMERICANS appear to be undergoing a significant psychological shift in our relation to global warming. I call this shift a climate “swerve,” borrowing the term used recently by the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt to describe a major historical change in consciousness that is neither predictable nor orderly.

The first thing to say about this swerve is that we are far from clear about just what it is and how it might work. But we can make some beginning observations which suggest, in Bob Dylan’s words, that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways. Each can be examined as a continuation of my work comparing nuclear and climate threats.

The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable.

This sense of the climate threat is represented in public opinion polls and attitude studies. A recent Yale survey, for instance, concluded that “Americans’ certainty that the earth is warming has increased over the past three years,” and “those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position.”

Falsification and denial, while still all too extensive, have come to require more defensive psychic energy and political chicanery.

But polls don’t fully capture the complex collective process occurring.

The most important experiential change has to do with global warming and time. Responding to the climate threat — in contrast to the nuclear threat, whose immediate and grotesque destructiveness was recorded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — has been inhibited by the difficulty of imagining catastrophic future events. But climate-related disasters and intense media images are hitting us now, and providing partial models for a devastating climate future.

At the same time, economic concerns about fossil fuels have raised the issue of value. There is a wonderfully evocative term, “stranded assets,” to characterize the oil, coal and gas reserves that are still in the ground. Trillions of dollars in assets could remain “stranded” there. If we are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustaining the human habitat, between 60 percent and 80 percent of those assets must remain in the ground, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, an organization that analyzes carbon investment risk. In contrast, renewable energy sources, which only recently have achieved the status of big business, are taking on increasing value, in terms of returns for investors, long-term energy savings and relative harmlessness to surrounding communities.

Pragmatic institutions like insurance companies and the American military have been confronting the consequences of climate change for some time. But now, a number of leading financial authorities are raising questions about the viability of the holdings of giant carbon-based fuel corporations. In a world fueled by oil and coal, it is a truly stunning event when investors are warned that the market may end up devaluing those assets. We are beginning to see a bandwagon effect in which the overall viability of fossil-fuel economics is being questioned.

Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on a larger scale.

This takes us to the swerve-related significance of ethics. Our reflections on stranded assets reveal our deepest contradictions. Oil and coal company executives focus on the maximum use of their product in order to serve the interests of shareholders, rather than the humane, universal ethics we require to protect the earth. We may well speak of those shareholder-dominated principles as “stranded ethics,” which are better left buried but at present are all too active above ground.

Such ethical contradictions are by no means entirely new in historical experience. Consider the scientists, engineers and strategists in the United States and the Soviet Union who understood their duty as creating, and possibly using, nuclear weapons that could destroy much of the earth. Their conscience could be bound up with a frequently amorphous ethic of “national security.” Over the course of my work I have come to the realization that it is very difficult to endanger or kill large numbers of people except with a claim to virtue.

The climate swerve is mostly a matter of deepening awareness. When exploring the nuclear threat I distinguished between fragmentary awareness, consisting of images that come and go but remain tangential, and formed awareness, which is more structured, part of a narrative that can be the basis for individual and collective action.

In the 1980s there was a profound worldwide shift from fragmentary awareness to formed awareness in response to the potential for a nuclear holocaust. Millions of people were affected by that “nuclear swerve.” And even if it is diminished today, the nuclear swerve could well have helped prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

With both the nuclear and climate threats, the swerve in awareness has had a crucial ethical component. People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren.

Social movements in general are energized by this kind of ethical passion, which enables people to experience the more active knowledge associated with formed awareness. That was the case in the movement against nuclear weapons. Emotions related to individual conscience were pooled into a shared narrative by enormous numbers of people.

In earlier movements there needed to be an overall theme, even a phrase, that could rally people of highly divergent political and intellectual backgrounds. The idea of a “nuclear freeze” mobilized millions of people with the simple and clear demand that the United States and the Soviet Union freeze the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Could the climate swerve come to include a “climate freeze,” defined by a transnational demand for cutting back on carbon emissions in steps that could be systematically outlined?

With or without such a rallying phrase, the climate swerve provides no guarantees of more reasonable collective behavior. But with human energies that are experiential, economic and ethical it could at least provide — and may already be providing — the psychological substrate for action on behalf of our vulnerable habitat and the human future.

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Robert Jay Lifton is a psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 24, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: The Climate Swerve.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism:

ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate.

By ED HUSAIN,  

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up  {something this website doubts indeed – a PJ comment}, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

{ Above is an oxymoron – Wahhabism is the religious base that kept Salafism alive and is the base on which was mounted the Saudi throne. The Saudi monarchy and Wahhabism are one and the same so the Saudi treasury it is also the modern age father of Salafism. And what fills the Saudi treasury? Those are the foreign currencies spent at any gas-pump – be it by buying Saudi oil products or any oil products. As oil is fungible, any oil sold globally increases the value of Saudi oil sales.The bottom line is thus that anyone of us, by his thirst for oil, feeds ISIL.}

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified. 

{WHAT IS HE TALING ABOUT HERE – WHAT TENSION? IT REALLY IS A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP.
(PJ comment)}

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.

—————————

Ed Husain is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 23, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From the Ashes of Iraq: Mesopotamia Rises Again.

by Alexander H. Joffe
The National Interest – Posted also by The Middle East Forum
August 20, 2014

www.meforum.org/4780/iraq-mesopotamia-rises-again

 

The dissolution of the colonial creation named “Iraq” is now almost complete. Perhaps what comes next is a return to the past; not a brutal Islamic “caliphate,” but something more basic.

Today, Mesopotamia is reappearing. The term is a Greek word meaning “the land between the two rivers.” The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are the defining features, each arising in mountains far to the north of Baghdad. The rivers and their annual floods defined the landscape, the cycle of life and the worldview of civilizations. The deserts to the west and the mountains to the east and far north provided rough boundaries and were liminal spaces related to the center, but yet separate and apart, sunbaked and dangerous. Inside Mesopotamia was a cauldron.

From the Sumerians of the third millennium BCE through the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations of the second and first millennia BCE, to the Abbasids of the eighth century CE and until the arrival of the British in the early twentieth century, the space called Mesopotamia was the container for civilizations that rose and collapsed. Cultures invented writing and built the first cities, growing and shrinking in response to changing river courses and global climate. They conquered and were conquered, traded with surrounding regions, and formed a baggy but recognizable whole—what we call Mesopotamian civilization.

{Let’s remember history as it really happened – not as it was dreamed-up b y the French and British Empires, and later on by the American Oil-Industry forging an American Empire of Oil. The bottom line of this posting we are getting to is that thre never were Nations of Iraq or Syria and it seems now that there never will be a repeat of what the colonial powers did here for their own purpose. This article leads us to undeerstand that in Mesopotamia – as a region – there always was a strong South opposed by a North with a middle moving in between the two, and in contact with an arid desert West and an arid mountain area on the East. (PJ comment)}

Internal distinctions were paramount. Babylonia in the south was dominated by the rivers and the annual flood, irrigation agriculture and seemingly unrelenting heat and mud. Assyria in the northern, rain-fed zone sat amidst undulating plains and foothills. Culturally, Babylonia was older and more developed, the “heartland of cities” going back to 4000 BCE, a primacy that Assyria acknowledged even in periods when they dominated the south. By and large, both shared the same deities and myths, the same aggressive tendencies, and the same fear and loathing of surrounding regions. But competition, warfare and repression were constant.

For inhabitants, that is to say the kings and priests whose thoughts we read on clay tablets many millennia later, Mesopotamia the whole, a unity of north and south, was an ideal—the supreme prize, something overseen by the gods—to be aspired to and claimed by quotidian rulers. But, much like the idea of “Iraq,” it was conceptual, rather than practical. The south often dominated the north and vice versa, but never for very long.

Then, as now, the neighbors were a problem. One historical parallel seems especially apposite today. The Third Dynasty of Ur was short-lived, existing from around 2212 to 2004 BCE. It arose in southern Mesopotamia after the fall of the Semitic Akkadian Empire and revived the culture of the original or dominant southern ethnic group, the Sumerians. This dynasty created a fanatically integrated state, where temples, palaces and estates spun elaborate networks of supply and whose record keeping was unprecedented. As a territorial state, it was not far-flung; its core area extended only from modern Baghdad south to the Arabian Gulf, but it briefly reached into Iran and Assyria.

Toward the end of the dynasty, however, ruler Su-Sin faced a growing threat, the Amorites. These Semitic-speaking peoples arose somewhere on the middle stretches of the Euphrates River and surrounding steppe-lands in what is, for now, called Syria. Amorites were regarded with contempt and fear by the neo-Sumerians. It was said they did not cultivate grain, nor did they cook their meat. They did not even bury their dead.

Whether this terrifying image was correct or was something cultivated by Ur III scribes, Amorites themselves, or both is unknown. But Su-Sin’s response was to build a wall—the “wall against the Martu,” perhaps 280 kilometers in length—to keep the Amorites out. It didn’t work, any better than other walls in antiquity designed to keep barbarians out. The Ur III dynasty collapsed and was followed by centuries of conflict between various dynasties.

Eventually, the Amorites took control, their most famous scion being Hammurabi of Babylon. Like all Mesopotamian dynasties before and since, it was necessary to connect with the greater Mesopotamian tradition; Hammurabi’s lineage was crafted to show he descended from ancient kings and was the restorer of justice. Hammurabi’s famous “law code” described him as the pious defender of widows and orphans, when in fact he was their maker. No surprise that Saddam Hussein was often depicted with Hammurabi and with Nebuchadnezzar, destroyer of the temple in Jerusalem. Similarly, ISIS’ claims to the Islamic “caliphate,” to the restoration of glory and piety can be viewed through the same lens. In Mesopotamia, the past is always charter.

As concession to divisive reality, the Ottoman Turks had ruled Mesopotamia with three administrative units, in which a bewildering assortment of ethnic groups coexisted uncomfortably. About the Sunni-dominated state created by Britain, their “Iraq,” a revived medieval term, little more need be said. The claptrap monarchy they invented gave way to a repressive and then tyrannical “republic.” As it happened, America disposed of Saddam Hussein, although the Arab Spring may have done the same. In a historical irony, an act of imperialist intervention thus undid a previous one.

So it is as well with Syria, now divided into warring territories along lines familiar three thousand years ago. Many, especially ISIS itself, pointed to the vehement erasure of the so-called “Sykes-Picot” line, the 1916 boundary between British and French spheres of influence, from which the borders of Iraq and Syria were drawn. ISIS even bulldozed the berm that marked this mostly arbitrary line.

The symbolism of Sykes-Picot in the minds of Westerners and Islamists alike is telling, if nothing else, of the psychological impact of the last century. Their borders, drawn with thick pencils on imprecise maps, looked to the future, to a Middle East under Western domination. Iraq, and Syria, created holes where none existed.

Iraq has fractured along traditional lines; Kurdistan in the north, the Sunni regions around Baghdad and west toward the Euphrates and the Shiite regions of the south. These correspond roughly to Assyria and Babylonia, and the swing zones in the middle over which they fought endlessly. Hordes more terrifying than the Amorites—judging from their tweets of mass murder and crucifixion—rush in from the west while Persia struggles to defend its Shiite vassal state in Baghdad.

More of what is old is new again. ISIS threatens the Haditha Dam on the Euphrates, which if destroyed, would unleash catastrophic floods, much as the Assyrian king Sargon II did in 710 BCE against rebellious Babylonian ruler Merodach-Baladan. Cutting off the water supply, as ISIS did when it captured the Fallujah Dam earlier this year, is an even more ancient tactic; the cities of Lagash and Umma had fought a water war around 2500 BCE.

Ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter, proud announcement of the mutilation and execution of captives as nearly religious expressions of power, arbitrary decisions to provision or starve captive populations—all these are ancient Mesopotamian patterns of conflict. Only the destruction of Islamic religious buildings and sites by ISIS is truly new; Mesopotamian dynasties were fastidious about maintaining or restoring the cults and temples of conquered city-gods, even though the gods’ statues might “choose” to dwell in the conqueror’s city.

Geography is the container for cultures and helps create their possibilities and limits. Iraq was always a figment, as well as an ideal held by people who, for a few decades following the European style, thought of themselves as a nation-state. But underlying dynamics have proven stronger, and Iraq is no more. The ancient cauldron returns and decades of warring tribes and dynasties likely await.

——————–

Alex Joffe is editor of The Ancient Near East Today, the monthly e-newsletter of the American Schools of Oriental Research. He is also a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Related Topics:  Iraq  |  Alexander H. Joffe

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The changing landscape of religion.

Laxenburg, Austria, 20 August 2014: The mixes of religion and ethnicity in society are changing in Vienna, Europe, and the world. IIASA research provides a demographic perspective. 

Religion is a key factor in demography, important for projections of future population growth as well as for other social indicators. A new journal, Yearbook of International Religious Demography, is the first to bring a quantitative demographic focus to the study of religion. The journal is co-edited by IIASA researcher Vegard Skirbekk, an expert in the field of religious demography. The first edition of the journal includes three studies by IIASA researchers:
 

Vienna: Growing diversity in religion and ethnicity.

The city of Vienna is growing increasingly diverse in both religion and ethnicity, according to a new study by IIASA researcher Markus Speringer and Ramon Bauer of the Vienna Institute for Demography, which explored how Vienna’s ethnic and religious diversity has developed from 1970 to 2011.

The study reflects Vienna’s changing religious and ethnic structure, which has seen increased migration since 1970. By 2011, almost a third of Vienna’s population was foreign-born, the study showed. But while in 2001, a majority of those immigrants came from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, in 2011 the immigrant population was far more diverse, including many newcomers from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

At the same time, the percentage of Roman Catholics has declined in the city, from nearly 80% in 1971 to less than 50% in 2001. This decline is due to both an increase in religious disaffiliation as well as an influx of people of different religions, the study shows.

The study also assessed the makeup of Vienna’s neighborhoods – showing that most migrants live in Vienna’s inner districts, in diverse, mixed neighborhoods. The outer districts of Vienna, by contrast, are mainly home to people born in Austria with a catholic religious affiliation.

 

Europe:  Immigration and religious switching.

Christians still make up 75% of people in Europe, according to a second paper published in the journal, which quantified Europe’s population by religious affiliation. The study, led by IIASA researcher Marcin Stonawski, showed that the next-largest group (18%) of Europeans claims no religious affiliation, and Muslims are the third-largest group with about 6% of the population. The study estimated religious distribution by age and sex for 42 countries – the first to provide such a detailed demographic analysis over all of Europe. It shows that the Christian population is relatively old, with a median age of 41.7 years, while the median age for the Muslim population was 31.8 years.
Contact: Marcin Stonawski stonaw@iiasa.ac.at


A third paper published in the new journal provides the methodology behind the Pew Research Global Religious Landscape Study published in 2012, the most thorough demographic analysis to date of global religious populations. The study, based on more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers, found that 84% of the 2010 world population was affiliated with a religion. The study also found that roughly one-in-six people around the globe had no religious affiliation.

The report included estimates of the religious composition of over 230 countries and territories and, for the first time ever, median age data for followers of each religion. The study documented a wide gulf between the median age of Muslims (23) and Jews (36).
 
The report was produced by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with researchers from the Age and Cohort Change Project (ACC) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), including Vegard Skirbekk, Marcin Stonawski and Michaela Potancokova.
Contact: Vegard Skirbekk  skirbekk@iiasa.ac.at

Reference
Feng, Kuishuang, Klaus Hubacek, Stephan Pfister, Yang Yu, Laixiang Sun. 2014. “Virtual Scarce Water in China.” Environmental Science and Technology, dx.doi.org/10.1021/es500502q.

For PDF copies of the studies highlighted in this release please contact IIASA Press Officer Katherine Leitzell.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Apply to join Al Gore in Brazil
to become a Climate Reality Leader >
APPLY TO JOIN AL GORE IN BRAZIL, NOVEMBER 4-6 TO BECOME A CLIMATE REALITY LEADER!

Dear Pincas,

Change doesn’t happen by accident.

Change takes time, dedication, and most importantly, it takes leaders.

Here at The Climate Reality Project, we’ve got some of the best around: they’re called Climate Reality Leaders. And today, I’m hoping you’ll apply to join us in Rio de Janeiro November 4-6 to become one.

During the course of three days, you’ll work with world-renowned experts in climate science, alternative energy, and sustainability. You’ll learn from twenty-first century communicators, organizers, and of course, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Together, we’ll equip you with the training to more effectively communicate, organize, and lead. You’ll discuss what’s happening to our planet and the real solutions we have today. You’ll learn how to strengthen the public will to solve this crisis once and for all.

 

And once you’ve got the right tools, you’ll be prepared to join more than 6,000 other Climate Reality Leaders across the planet and spread the message so widely and speak up so loudly that it cannot be ignored: we can solve climate change.

The world needs climate leaders like you now more than ever.

Apply to join us in this effort. You’ll come as a leader, and leave as a Climate Reality Leader, ready to take on the greatest challenge of our time.

We look forward to receiving your application. Together, we can change the world.

Thanks for your commitment to climate action,

Ken Berlin
President & CEO

P.S. If you still need some convincing, check out this video our Chairman and Founder Al Gore recorded to remind everyone why becoming a Climate Reality Leader is so important.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Islamic State Fighter: Hezbollah and the Jews Are Next.

The Algemeiner as per Globes which is the Israeli business journal – August 18, 2014

“From Syria, we’ll expand the caliphate, Allah willing, and Hizbullah and the Jews will meet their fate, and soon,” vowed an American-born 26-year-old Islamic State (IS) fighter in Aleppo, Syria to a disguised Israeli reporter, Israel’s Globes reported Monday.

Posing as “Abed al-Islam Afifi,” 26, from Paris, the reporter contacted Abu Turab via a cellphone app.

“Of course, it’s great to be here [in Syria],” Abu Turab said. “Jihad in our generation is a personal duty. While I can’t directly recommend it to you, Allah, praised be His name, told all Muslims to follow in his path.”

When the reporter asked for more information on how to join IS and the group’s goals, he was told, “First, go to Turkey, and there, I’ll give you a number of someone to call, and they’ll do the rest. It’s that simple,” he was told.

IS boasts that dozens of American youths, and hundreds from various countries in Europe have joined its ranks and have already entered Syria and Iraq to fight alongside various factions, in part, thanks to easy access to information on the internet.

The reporter said he found Abu-Turab on a European social network dedicated to offering questions and answers on joining the worldwide terrorist scourge. Abu-Turab is a star on this particular network, according to the report, with hundreds of answers posted to questions about the group’s aims and goals.

“What happens of Bashar [Assad's] dogs reach you?” one person asked.

“They haven’t got to me yet, but I pray to Allah that it doesn’t happen,” Abu Turab replied.

According to the report, Prof. Meir Litvak of the Department of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, said,”These young people are highly alienated from their environment.”

“They’re attracted to whatever is the most ‘anti’ to whatever is in front of them,” he said. “And radical Islamic fundamentalism represents it – [opposition] to the ‘totally rotten and corrupt America,’ in their view.”

The easiest explanation for the attraction of young people to jihad is an economic rationale, but Professor Litvak argues that “most of them are not poor; no economic crisis pushed them into despair. Not at all. These youngsters are middle class.”

“For example the British of Pakistani origin who perpetrated the attacks in London – it’s same thing. While there are the typical ‘marginal’ Americans or Europeans youth, the majority are young Muslims from families who feel alienated from bourgeois society.”

Dr. Muhammad Al Atawneh, a senior faculty member in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, suggested that these young people understand Islam and organizations like IS via non-religious sources.

“For these young people, this is a protest. They see radical Islam as an alternative to the failure of nation-states. They go to the edge of the edge, talking about the caliphate, but no one there knows what ‘caliphate’ really means,” he said.

“There is tremendous ignorance on the subject,” Al Atawneh said. “They’re very confused in matters of religion. The distortions and gaps are so abysmal, it is impossible to understand what texts people who chop off heads are following.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Today, Saturday, July 26th, the news are that Prime Minster Netanyahu agreed to offer a 12 hours pause in the assault on Hamas in honor of the Muslim Eid al Fitr celebration and Hamas agreed to obey as well. The general hope is that the time will be used to start negotiations that could justify an extension of this truce. So far these news rated page 8 of the New York Times.

We follow very closely these events as SUSTAINABILITY in the Middle East requires a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the creation of an agreed upon and legitimized two or three States solution in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

After the release of the Genie of War from his temporary tunnel.  Israel cannot allow another temporary non-solution that will clearly lead only to renewed fighting down the road. Kick the Can time is over they say. The destruction of the military capability of Hamas and making safe the frontiers around the Gaza Strip – so no tunneling under those frontiers will continue in the aftermass of the 2914 conflict.

In these conditions Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet have no interest in a 7 days cease-fire suggested by US  Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, neither does Israel consider pulling back the military equipment and the military from the recent incursion into the Gaza Strip without having achieved first the destruction of those tunnels – some as three mile long. Nor will Israel allow bringing in cement to the Gaza Strip before there is an authority to monitor that this cement is used for housing and roads and not for repairing  those tunnels and build new ones.

Those issues are fully known to Mr. Kerry and he also mentions them in his argument for cease-fire and negotiations, but here comes his meeting in Cairo where besides the President and Foreign Minister of Egypt acting as hosts, he also faced the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was pulled in as International Boss by the Amir of Qatar.to whom Mr. Kerry had to give homage in order to get the UN into this as representing the World at large – knowing that he came here on money from the main backer of the Hamas, while he himself, Mr. Ban, is in effect leaning on help from the Arab League at large that was represented in Cairo thus by the boss of the boss – Mr. Nabil AlArabi, Secretary -General of the Arab League that Mr, Ban Ki-moon recognizes as representing the Middle East region without Israel at the UN.  So far as the UN goes, Israel is not in Western Asia, but in Europe and “Others” – somewhat closer to the moon.

The real power the four elements that met in Cairo on July 24th is shown in the reporting from the US Department of State that we post here in full. The last speaker being obviously the one who thinks he represents the power of Sunni Islam – Arab and Turkish

———————-

Nabil AlAraby  (born 15 March 1935 in Egypt) is an experienced Egyptian diplomat who has been Secretary-General of the Arab League since July 2011. Previously, he was Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf’s post revolution government from March to June 2011.   Elaraby was Legal Adviser and Director in the Legal and Treaties Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1976 to 1978 and then Ambassador to India from 1981 to 1983; he then returned to his previous post at the Foreign Ministry from 1983 to 1987.

He was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the Camp David Middle East peace conference in 1978, Head of the Egyptian delegation to the Taba negotiations from 1985 to 1989, and Agent of the Egyptian Government to the Egyptian-Israeli arbitration tribunal (Taba dispute) from 1986 to 1988. He was appointed by the Egyptian Minister of Justice on the list of arbitrations in civil and commercial affairs in Egypt in 1995.

He holds a J.S.D. (1971) and an LL.M. (1969) from New York University School of Law and a law degree from Cairo University‘s Faculty of Law (1955). AlAraby is a partner at Zaki Hashem & Partners in Cairo, specializing in negotiations and arbitration.

at the United Nations:

In 1968 Elaraby was an Adlai Stevenson Fellow in International Law at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). He was appointed a Special Fellow in International Law at UNITAR in 1973, and was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations Geneva Middle East peace conference from 1973-1975.

AlArby was Egypt’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 1978 to 1981, the Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva from 1987 to 1991, the Permanent Representative to the UN in New York from 1991 to 1999, a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations from 1994 to 2004, President of the Security Council in 1996, and Vice-President of the General Assembly in 1993, 1994 and 1997. He was a commissioner at the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva from 1999 to 2001, and a member of the International Court of Justice from 2001 until February 2006.

AlAraby has served as Chairman for the First (Disarmament and international security questions) Committee of the General Assembly, the Informal Working Group on an Agenda for Peace, the Working Group on Legal Instruments for the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the UN Special Committee on Enhancing the Principle of the Prohibition of the Use of Force in International Relations.

Other international work:

AlAraby was an Arbitrator at the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration in Paris in a dispute concerning the Suez Canal from 1989 to 1992. He was a judge in the Judicial Tribunal of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1990.

AlAraby was a member of the governing board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute from 2000 to 2010.[1] Since December 2008 he has been serving as the Director of the Regional Cairo Centre for International Commercial Arbitration[2] and as a counsel of the Sudanese government in the “Abyei Boundary” Arbitration between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Revolutionary Movement.[3]

AlAraby has also served as a Member of the Board for the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, a Member of the Board for the Egyptian Society of International Law, and a Member of the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Centre List of Neutrals.

2011 Egyptian revolution and transitional government:

Nabil AlAraby was one of the group of about 30 high-profile Egyptians acting as liaison between the protesters and the government, and pressing for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.[4]

At a democracy forum on 25 February 2011, he said the Egyptian government suffered from a lack of separation of powers, a lack of transparency and a lack of judicial independence.
He said foreign policy should be based on Egypt’s interests, including “holding Israel accountable when it does not respect its obligations.
[5]

On 6 March 2011, he was appointed Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf‘s post-revolution cabinet.[6]  Since then he has opened the Rafah Border Crossing with Gaza and brokered the reconciliation of Hamas with Fatah.[7]

Clearly – a very versed man with large horizon and it is not clear where he stands with the present government of Egypt. Clearly not in the US corner.

————————————————————————

From the US Department of State – Remarks from

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Cairo, Egypt
July 25, 2014 o9:59 PM EDT

Remarks With UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby.


 As available:

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. You know that Egypt is – the serious military escalation in Gaza and what the Palestinian people have been exposed to in terms of destruction – broad destruction and killing of civilians that claimed up until now over 800 civilians and thousands of injured. We are working incessantly to end this crisis and to spare the Palestinian people of the dangers it has been exposed to, and to prevent further military escalation. And this has led to the proposal – to us proposing our plan, and we should know that Egypt has not spared any effort to stop – or to reach a cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people and to allow for negotiations to start between the two parties in order to discuss all the issues, in order to restore stability in the Gaza strip, and to meet the needs of the brotherly Palestinian people, and to also prevent further violence which the Palestinian civilians have been exposed to.

We have continued our efforts since the beginning of the military escalation to achieve this goal in cooperation with the U.S. and the secretary-general of the UN and the secretary-general of the Arab League and other parties – other regional and international parties in order to achieve this goal. We once again call for the immediate cease-fire, a cease of all actions in order to protect the Palestinian people. And given that the parties have not shown any – sufficient willingness to stop this, we are calling for a humanitarian cease-fire to observe the holy days that we are on the verge of observing at the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid for a period of seven days, in the hope that this will lead – will prompt the parties to heed the calls of conscience and humanitarian needs in order to reach a comprehensive cease-fire, and also begin negotiations in order to prevent the reoccurrence of this crisis.

And also, to propose a good framework for this objective, we have consulted over the last few days in order to formulate a formula that would be agreed to by all the sides, and also to stop the bloodshed. But unfortunately, we have to exert further effort in order to realize our common goals in this regard. The proposed ideas were focused or fell within the same framework that the Egyptian plan proposed. And once again, we will call on all parties to benefit from it and to accept it definitively. I would like on this occasion also to allow the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to speak.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. All right. Well, let me start again. I want to thank Sameh Shoukry and President al-Sisi and Egypt for their very warm welcome here, but most importantly for their continued efforts to try to find a way to achieve a cease-fire agreement in Gaza and then beyond that, to be able to resolve the critical issues that are underlying this conflict. I thank Sameh for his help today and the work we’ve been doing together. We’ve made some movement and progress, and I’ll talk about that in a minute.

I also want to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has traveled and worked tirelessly in these past days throughout the international community to try to bring people together, as well as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby for his close partnership in this effort. They’ve been sources of good advice and also of tireless effort. So this is a broad effort with a broad based sense that something needs to be done.

I also want to acknowledge President Abbas who has traveled to any number of countries in recent days, and whom I met with just the other day, who expressed his desire – strong desire to achieve a cease-fire as rapidly as possible, and he has been passionately advocating for the Palestinian people and the future of the Palestinian state.

Let me just say that the agony of the events on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, all of them together, simply cannot be overstated. The daily reality for too many people of grief and blood and loss and tears, it all joins together to pull at the fabric of daily life in each of their communities.

In Israel, millions of people are living under constant threat of Hamas rocket fire and tunnel attacks, and they’re ready to take cover at any moment’s notice. And I’ve had telephone conversations with the prime minister interrupted by that fact. Earlier this week I had a chance to visit with the family of a young man by the name of Max Steinberg, an American – one of two Americans killed in this devastating conflict – and his mother Naftali Fraenkel[1], who was murdered at the outset – whose son was murdered at the very outset of this crisis.

So any parent in the world, regardless of somebody’s background, can understand the horror of losing a child or of seeing these children who are caught in the crossfire. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians have died over the past few weeks, including a tragic number of civilians. And we’ve all read the headlines and seen the images of the devastation: 16 people killed and more than 200 injured in just a single attack yesterday; women and children being wheeled away on stretchers; medics pulling shrapnel out of an infant’s back; a father nursing his three-year-old son. The whole world is watching a – tragic moment after tragic moment unfold and wondering: When is everybody going to come to their senses?

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians deserve and need to lead normal lives, and it’s time for everyone to recognize that violence breeds violence and that the short-term tactical gains that may be made through a violent means simply will not inspire the long-term change that is necessary and that both parties really want.

I have been in the region since Monday at the request of President Obama, and I’ve spent five days on the ground here and also in Israel in the West Bank engaging in countless discussions with leaders throughout the region and even around the world, conversations lasting, obviously, late into the night and through the day. We have gathered here, my colleagues and I have gathered here together because we believe that it is impossible for anybody to simply be inactive and not try to make government work to deal with this bloodshed. We need to join together and push back.

Specifically, here is what we’ve been working to try to bring about. At this moment, we are working toward a brief seven days of peace – seven days of a humanitarian cease-fire in honor of Eid, in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable cease-fire for the long run, and to work to create the plans for that long haul.

The fact is that the basic structure is built on the Egyptian initiative, but the humanitarian concept is one that Egypt has agreed to embrace in an effort to try to honor Eid and bring people together at this moment. Seven days, during which the fundamental issues of concern for Israel – security, the security of Israel and its people – and for the Palestinians – the ability to know that their social and economic future can be defined by possibilities, and that those issues will be addressed. We believe that Egypt has made a significant offer to bring people to Cairo – the factions, the Palestinian factions and representatives of interested states and the state of Israel – in order to begin to try to negotiate the way forward.

Now, why are we not announcing that that has been found yet tonight? For a simple reason: That we still have some terminology in the context of the framework to work through. But we are confident we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work. And what we need to do is continue to work for that, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We believe that seven days will give all the parties the opportunity to step back from the violence and focus on the underlying causes, perhaps take some steps that could build some confidence, and begin to change the choices for all.

We don’t yet have that final framework, but I will tell you this: None of us here are stopping. We are going to continue the conversations. And right now, before I came in here tonight, I had conversations with people on both sides of this conflict. Just spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who made it clear that he wants to try to find this way forward. I think the Secretary-General, who has graciously called for a 12-hour cease-fire, will speak in a moment about that possibility and where it will go. And Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indicated his willingness to do that as a good-faith down payment and to move forward. And I’m grateful to the Secretary-General for his leadership in that regard.

But in the end, the only way that this issue is going to be resolved, this conflict, is for the parties to be able to come together and work through it as people have in conflicts throughout history. And it’s our hope, and we intend to do everything possible. Tomorrow, I will be in Paris, where I will meet with some of our counterparts, my counterparts, and where I will also meet with other players who are important to this discussion in an effort to be able to try to see if we can narrow the gap. And Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to try to help do that over the course of the next day.

So we begin with at least the hope of a down payment on a cease-fire, with the possibility of extension, a real possibility in the course of tomorrow. And hopefully, if we can make some progress, the people in this region who deserve peace can find at least one step towards that elusive goal. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Secretary-General.

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN: Thank you, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, League of Arab States Secretary-General al-Araby. Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Assalamu alaikum, Ramadan Kareem.

Let me begin by commending all the leaders here today. I’d like to particularly thank President Sisi of Egypt and Foreign Minister Shoukry as the host of this initiative to have made ceaseless efforts to bring all the parties together. And I also commend highly the leadership and commitment and tirelessly – tireless diplomatic efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, and it has been a source of inspiration to work with all these distinguished colleagues. And I have been obviously closely working with League of Arab States Secretary General al-Araby.

This is my sixth day in the region visiting eight countries, 11 stops, meeting kings, amirs, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, over meeting, over telephones. I have been working very closely with the leaders here as well as all the leaders in the region. I really appreciate their kind cooperation and leadership. Our joint effort is a clear signal of a global commitment to end the bloodshed and destruction that is tearing apart the lives of hope and the hopes of so many innocent civilians. People of Gaza have bled enough. They are trapped and besieged in a tiny, densely populated sliver of land. Every bit of it is a civilian area. The Israeli people have been living under the constant fear of Hamas rocket attacks. Tensions are spreading further. We are seeing growing unrest in the West Bank. Surely now, the parties must realize that it is time for them to act, and solutions must be based on three important issues.

First, stop the fighting. We called for a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire extending over the Eid period, beginning with a extendable 12-hour pause. Second, start talking. There is no military solution to addressing the grievances, and all parties must find a way to dialogue. Third, tackle the root causes of the crisis. This effort – peace effort – cannot be the same as it was the last two Gaza conflicts, where we reset the clock and waited for the next one. The ongoing fighting emphasizes the need to finally end the 47-year-old occupation, end the chokehold on Gaza, ensure security based on mutual recognition and achieve a viable two-state solution, by which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security side by side.

Along with world and regional leaders, we continue to make every effort to forge a durable cease-fire for the people of Gaza and Israel based on those three pillars. Progress is being made, but there is much more work to do. We may not be satisfied with what we are now proposing, but we have to build upon what we are now proposing. In the meantime, more children are dying every hour of every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, today is the last Friday of Ramadan. The world is just away from marking Eid-al-Fitr. Let us all take inspiration from this season of peace and reflection. The United Nations is fully committed to ensuring the success of this proposal and securing hope and dignity for all the people of Palestine and Israel. And I thank you again for all leaders in the region and in the world who have been working together with the United Nations and the leaders here to bring peace and security to this region. I thank you very much. Shukran Jazilan.

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Via interpreter.) Secretary-general of the United – of the Arab League.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much. I would like to thank also the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is a very serious and grave situation. There are martyrs in Palestine have been – have died as a result of the Israeli aggression and the violation of the principles of international humanitarian law. People have been fired at, children are falling, and all civilians are being killed. This is the holiest month in the Islamic world, as those before me have mentioned. And on the eve of the Eid, we would like to support and uphold the idea of a cease-fire, as Mr. John Kerry has said and also the UN Secretary-General has said.

But before I conclude my very brief remarks, I would like to say that the occupation and the siege on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – these are occupied territories. We cannot imagine that the siege and the occupation, that there would be no resistance to them. For that reason, everyone should work to end this conflict. I would allow myself to say, in English and in very simple and brief language: (In English) In a very simple and concise way, that as much as I support the humanitarian (inaudible), but we have to look at it. I think everyone has to do that. We have to look ahead. Then it’s diplomacy, and then (inaudible) results. We have to dedicate ourselves, all of us, to reach a final solution. That means the end of the occupation. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) We will be taking four questions, from Arshad (inaudible) first of all.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Mr. United Nations Secretary-General has to leave.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. My question is for Mr. John Kerry and Minister Sameh Shoukry. You’ve launched this proposal or plan. Has there been – have there been contacts between the two sides, and how far have you reached in these contexts, especially that the Eid is approaching fast?

With respect to the rules of engagement that Israel uses in Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank, and what we’ve seen in terms of destruction of and demolishing of hospitals, have you received any guarantees from Israel that these actions would not be repeated? And thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to the negotiating process, it’s inappropriate to sort of lay out all the details, but of course we’re talking to everybody that we can talk to who has an ability to have an impact, and obviously I’m talking directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and directly to other foreign ministers in the region, some of whom have different ways of talking with different factions of Palestinians, as well as talking to President Abbas. In the course of that, it’s very clear to me that under very difficult circumstances some are ready to move and others are reluctant and need assurances of one kind or another. And clearly, given the history, some of those assurances are sometimes difficult to be able to make and formulate appropriately so that somebody else doesn’t wind up being – struggling with them. That’s why the simplicity of this is really the best, which is come to the table and negotiate.

But to the degree that either side needs assurances of one thing or another being talked about, without outcomes, no preconditions, but something being negotiated and talked about, then you get in a contest of priorities and other kinds of things.

I believe we can work through those things. We have. The basic outline is approved by everybody. People believe that if the circumstances are right, the structure is right, a cease-fire makes sense, a cease-fire is important, and people would like to see the violence end. But it has to obviously be in ways that neither side feels prejudiced or their interests compromised.

So that’s what we’re working on. I think we’ve made serious progress. We sat today, worked some things out to deal with some of those sensitivities, but basically we still have some more things to do over the course of the next 24 or 48 hours, and we’re going to do that. My hope is that the 12 hours will be extended, perhaps to 24, and that people will draw from that the goodwill and effort to try to find a solution. But it takes – the parties have to come together and reach an understanding, and that’s what we’re going to continue to work on because it’s urgent for innocent people who get caught in the crossfire, and obviously the – as I said in my opening remarks, people in Israel deserve to live free from fear that their home or their school will be rocketed, but people in Palestine, the Palestinian territories and people in Gaza have a right to feel free from restraints on their life where they can barely get the food or the medicine or the building materials and the things that they need.

So there’s a lot on the table. It’s been complicated for a long time; it didn’t get easy last night. But we’re going to continue to work at this, and I’m confident that with goodwill, with good effort, I think progress can hopefully be made.

FOREIGN SECRETARY SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, since the outbreak of the crisis in Gaza, we have been in contact with all parties, with the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas. We have expended serious efforts based on our own Egyptian initiative, and also in cooperation with the American side. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank you, to thank Mr. Kerry for his efforts and – that he has spent and continues to expend, and his cooperation in order to achieve a complete cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people.

Military action and the serious escalation and the serious strikes taking place against the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, prove the importance of immediate action to end this crisis so that it would not result or lead to more serious ramifications, not just in the occupied territories, but in the region as a whole. The framework we talk about is a framework that is – that the U.S. Secretary of State has talked about – is based on the Egyptian initiative, and also based on the idea of encouraging the parties to interact with it, so that we can reach a complete cease-fire and seizure of all military action, and to also save civilians from being targeted, and to end the bloodshed, just like the strike against the school yesterday. Such actions should not be repeated and should completely end, and so should military action.

And a temporary humanitarian cease-fire should be accepted to give a chance, an opportunity for interaction between the various parties, and perhaps expand it beyond there, so that all parties would come to recognize that a comprehensive solution to all this crisis and to the Palestinian conflict should be reached, and also to establish a Palestinian state in order to prevent the reoccurrence of such a grave situation.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Arshad Mohammed.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, as I imagine you are aware, there are multiple reports that the Israeli cabinet today rejected the cease-fire proposal that you had on the table and said they wanted modifications. Do you regard that as just a negotiating ploy or do you regard it as likely to be a more definitive rejection?

And secondly, have you made any direct progress on getting the Egyptians to commit to opening Rafah, on getting the Israelis to commit to increasing traffic at the Erez crossing, and on getting Hamas to agree to let Israeli troops stay in the Gaza Strip during a truce? If you haven’t made any headway on those issues, how is it possible – after five days of diplomacy, how is it possible to describe these days as having produced serious progress?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me deal with the first issue, which is the fiction of diplomacy and of politics at the same time. There was no formal proposal or final proposal or proposal ready for a vote submitted to Israel. Let’s make that absolutely crystal clear. And Prime Minister Netanyahu called me a few minutes before this to make it clear that that is an error, inaccurate, and he’s putting out a statement to that effect. They may have rejected some language or proposal within the framework of some kind of suggestion at some point in time, but there was no formal proposal submitted from me on which there should have been a vote or on which a vote was ripe. We were having discussions about various ideas and various concepts of how to deal with this issue, and there’s always mischief from people who oppose certain things, and I consider that one of those mischievous interpretations and leaks which is inappropriate to the circumstances of what we’ve been doing and are engaged in.

With respect to the individual issues that you raised, I’m not going to make any announcements and I’m certainly not going to reveal issues that are of a bilateral nature between Egypt and the United States or the United States and another country, but I will simply tell you in a candid way that those issues were talked about, and I am satisfied with the responses that I received with respect to how they might affect the road ahead. And each and every one of them I believe there are ways of moving forward.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible)

QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Kerry and the Egyptian foreign minister. First of all, it seems that all of those efforts, the phone calls, visits have led only to a cease-fire for seven hours. Why is the reasons for not having more achievements? Who is blockading having more achievements in this? Is it Israel, or is it Hamas? Is it the Palestinians? Who is going to – we are going to blame on this? Because we have heard that Israel refused. As you have said, it’s not correct, but it was published that Israel refused, actually, some ideas of having more cease-fire, more than seven hours.

Also, it seems that all of this is because the peace process has stopped, actually, because of the settlements of Israel. This is the main cause – the blockade of course, and other things on the Gaza, the boycotts on Gaza. People can’t have food or water or other things, but also the peace process have stopped. You have – Secretary Kerry have done a lot in this, and yet you didn’t say why, who is the reasons behind it stopping.

And my question is for our foreign minister, please. (Via interpreter.) There is a lot of talk about the Rafah Crossing, and that Egypt is – closes this crossing. And there’s also an attempt to blame the siege, the Israeli siege on Gaza, on Egypt, even though it has – Israel has closed six crossings and is responsible for the siege. Can there be some clarification with respect to the Rafah Crossing, and will it continue to be closed in the coming days?

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you. With respect to Rafah Crossing, I have repeatedly responded to this, but it seems no one is listening. Rafah Crossing is open continuously and at all times, but it has to be under regulation related to Egyptian policy, and it’s also related to the situation in Sinai. But it is open, and it receives constantly and permanently, around the clock, people from the Gaza Strip for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, and more than 600 or 700 tons of food and medical material have crossed. And the crossing has never been tied or linked to any kind of siege on the Gaza Strip.

The six Israeli crossings that you referred to, they have to be operational. And the responsibility of Israel as an occupation authority is what – it is the responsibility of Israel, and we have called for this in our initiative, that the Israeli crossings need to be open so that the needs and the humanitarian needs of the Gazans should be met, and so that also normal life would be restored to the Gaza Strip. I hope that this response will be widely shared and it’s clear without any attempt to internationalize or to misinterpret the situation.

SECRETARY KERRY: Actually, I think a great deal has been moved in the course of the last days. Though it doesn’t meet your eye yet, those of us who are working this have a feeling that gaps have been significantly narrowed on certain things, but obviously not everything yet.

And in fairness, it’s important to say that, yes, Israel had some questions or even opposition to one concept or another concept – that doesn’t mean to a proposal by any means – at an early stage of discussion. But most importantly, I think it’s important to note that in Ramadan, when everything is on a different schedule, it’s more complicated to be able to have some meetings, particularly when I am mediating between different people who talk to different people. And it’s secondhand, thirdhand, it takes longer. So there’s a certain time consumption in all of that.

But I’m not a – I’m not somebody who I think is going to stand here and misinterpret the difficulties. At the same time, I can recognize progress when I see it and a concept that has taken shape. And I think my colleagues would agree there’s a fundamental concept here that can be achieved if we work through some of the issues of importance to the parties. That’s the art, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen overnight or as quickly as you’d like. But it doesn’t mean it can’t.

And so – by the way, it’s not seven hours; it’s 12 hours with a very likely extension of another 12, hopefully for 24, but we’ll see. The proof will be in the pudding on that. And on the peace process, I’ve purposely tried not to start pointing fingers and getting involved, because to us, the process is not over. It hasn’t stopped, and it doesn’t help to be starting to point fingers. What you have to do is figure out, okay, where do you go from here and how. In the course of this conflict right now, I would respectfully suggest to you there are some very serious warnings about what happens when you don’t have that process, and what happens if you’re not working effectively to try to achieve a resolution of the underlying issues.

This is about the underlying issues. And what we need to do is get through this first. It’s a little surrealistic in the middle of this to be talking about the other process, but those people who have been at this for a long time, my colleagues here and others, absolutely know that that is at the bedrock of much of the conflict and the trouble that we all witness here and that is going to have to be resolved if there is a chance of peace, and we believe there is.

Egypt has been a leader on that. Years ago, Egypt took extraordinary risk, and we all know what the consequences were. Egypt made peace, and it has made a difference. And the truth is that today there’s a great commitment here and elsewhere in the region to be able to get back to the process and try to address those underlying issues.

So it’s not gone. It’s dormant for the moment. It’s in hiatus because of the events that are taking place. But the leaders I’ve talked to tell me that what they’re witnessing now and what they’re seeing now has reinforced in them the notion that they needed to get back to that table as soon as possible and begin to address those concerns.

I don’t know if you want to say anything on that.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, with respect to the peace process, we call for the resumption of negotiations under U.S. sponsorship. Based from the point we have – it has stopped at, we do not want to go back to the beginning, but several accomplishments have been made on several issues. And we have to build on this progress in order to reach our ultimate goal, which the entire international community has agreed to: the two-state solution, a Palestinian state on Palestinian land with East Jerusalem, and this is the final solution to this conflict. And this will give the Palestinian people a chance to have a normal life away from killing and destruction, and to also fulfill its aspirations – the aspirations of the Palestinian people in the region, and will also ultimately lead to a final end to the conflict.

MODERATOR: (Speaking in Arabic, not interpreted) at CBS, Margaret Brennan.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, given the protests that we’ve seen in the West Bank over the past 24 hours, which resulted in at least one fatality, do you believe – do you fear that a third intifada is about to happen? And could you clarify – when you said that there’s a difference of terminology in regard to these negotiations, that sounds technical rather conceptual. Can you clarify what you meant there?

SECRETARY KERRY: I can, but I won’t. (Laughter.) I think it’s important to let us work quietly on those things and not put them out in the public domain, but I applaud you for a worthy try.

With respect to the incidents and events on the West Bank, I have learned not to characterize something ahead of time or predict it, and I’m not going to now. But I do know that the leaders I’ve talked to in Israel, in the West Bank, in Jordan are deeply concerned about what they are seeing right now. And it is very, very necessary for all of us to take it into account as we think about the options that we have in front of us. It’s just enormously disturbing to see this kind of passion find its way into violent protests, and in some cases not violent.

But we need to address – it’s a statement to all of us in positions of responsibility, get the job done, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.


[1] Max Steinberg’s mother’s name is Evie Steinberg, and Naftali Fraenkel is the name if the murdered American and Israeli teen.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

In Qatari-Backed Trip, UN ‘s Ban Ki-moon Laid Low by Israel’s Peres: ‘Mr. Secretary-General, They Even Use Your UNRWA Schools to Store Their Rockets – Peres said to the UNSG.’

July 23, 2014 3:20 pm 7 comments

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday told United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Israel would not stand by while Qatar, which paid for the UN official’s private flight to the Middle East, continued to finance Hamas militants, and took Ban to task for the two UN-run schools found to be housing Hamas rockets in Gaza.

In his last full day in office, Peres, a historically dovish leader, struck a defiant tone in a statement delivered to the media after meeting Ban at the President’s Residence, in Jerusalem.

“Qatar does not have the right to send money for rockets and tunnels which are fired at innocent civilians,” Peres said. “Their funding of terror the must stop.”

Newsweek‘s Benny Avni reported on Monday that the Qatari government paid for the UN Secretary General’s flight through the Middle East, where his first stop on Sunday was Doha, where he denounced Israel’s Operation Protective Edge’s battle in Shuja’iya, a border city that had been overrun by competing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters, and where rockets were hidden in mosques, hospitals, playgrounds and cemeteries connected by tunnels used to infiltrate the Israeli border and attack Kibbutz Nahal Oz a mile away.

Speaking in Doha after meeting with the Qatari regime, Newsweek pointed out, “It was the first time in two weeks that Ban did not mention rocket or other attacks against Israelis.”

“Ban’s choice of Qatar as the first Middle East capital on his trip has raised eyebrows in the region,” Newsweek said. “Egypt, in particular, has bitterly criticized what Cairo’s foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, has called Qatar’s ‘conspiring’ — along with Hamas and its other regional ally, Turkey — against Egyptian attempts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.”

On Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Qatar, which has offered to pay for reconstruction in Gaza, was “becoming an international problem” for providing “the financial backbone of the most extreme terrorist groups that threaten stability in the entire world and specifically in the Middle East.”

“Qatar is also a major player in our confrontation against Hamas in Gaza, as it finances Hamas and shelters its leader, Khaled Mashaal,” Lieberman said, according to Newsweek.

On Wednesday, Peres addressed Qatar’s role directly with Ban, saying, “If they want to build then they should, but they must not be allowed to destroy.”

 

“Instead of investing in education, in healthcare and in building a future for Gaza, Hamas wasted millions on tunnels and rockets,” Peres said. “The people of Gaza are not our enemies. Gaza could have become a center of trade but Hamas turned it into a center of terror.”

“The people of Gaza could have been given hope but instead Hamas brought them destruction,” he said. “Hamas built an infrastructure of terror beneath schools and kindergartens. They use hospitals to launch attacks. They hide in houses and use their children as human shields.”

Then he addressed the UN’s active role in perpetuating the crisis. Peres said, “Mr. Secretary-General, they even use your UNRWA schools to store their rockets,” referring to the two times the UN agency that runs Gaza schools admitted in the past week that their installations were being used to hide missiles, which, according to the UNRWA’s spokesman in Gaza, were actually returned to the militants who placed them there.

“The behavior of Hamas is a criminal act against their own people and ours,” Peres said. “The death of innocent civilians pains me personally and it pains our people. We sanctify life, every life. Hamas glorifies death and they are the ones responsible for the deaths in Gaza. We must say clearly – terrorism will never bring peace. The way to peace is through negotiations, dialogue and compromise.”

President Peres then called on the UN Human Rights Council “to condemn terrorism, especially of Hamas, in the strongest terms. Standing for human rights for all and standing against terrorism are one and the same.”

But he also objected to the UN’s way of doing things: “We reject the idea of appointing a committee to decide who is right and who is wrong,” he said. “Terror is a danger to the world and the fight against it is global. No country will be immune to the threat of terror if we don’t fight it together.”

“Every country has the obligation to protect itself against attacks and attempts to kill innocent civilians,” he said. “No state in the world would be willing to accept rockets fired at its mothers and children from the sky and terrorists emerging from tunnels to kill innocents for no reason and with no justification.”

With the U.S. FAA banning flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for 24-hours on Wednesday because of Hamas targeting the airport, Peres pointed to the Hamas rockets, not Israeli flights as the problem.

“I regret that airlines have suspended flights,” he said. “The real answer is not to stop flights but to stop the rockets. If airlines will submit to terror then they invite more rocket fire and a greater danger not just here, but across the world.”

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “I have been compelled to visit Israel once again on an urgent mission of peace and solidarity. This is my third such urgent mission during the last five years. The violence must stop now and we must immediately start dialogue which addressed all the root causes which have already been identified, discussed and negotiated for a long time. We don’t have time to lose.”

Accepting the narrative of both sides, Ban said tersely, ”Solidarity with Israelis on the rocket fire, solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza under massive assault as the international community strives for a ceasefire in Gaza.”

“I know there is rockets continue to threaten Israeli civilians and disrupt normal life. I have repeatedly condemned it and will continue to do so. There is a deep pain and anguish at the loss among Palestinians. As Secretary-General of the United Nations I will not be silent in the face of this tragedy.”

“Whatever the obstacles, Israelis and Palestinians share a common future and they need hope for political progress and economic prosperity,” Ban said, though his conclusion seemed out of touch with the deep-seeded hatred exposed during the two weeks of intense fighting.

“A future of two states living side by side in peace and security,” he said. “That’s the vision of the two state solution.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

But above statement does not sit well with the Secretary’s benefactor on this trip – His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, who is funding the UN Secretary-General’s current trip to the Middle East, or the Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s Middle East Policy guide, Dr. Nabil ElArabi, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the linchpin between the opposing two Arab Sunni factions headed by Qatar – the Godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood and of its off-Shoot the Hamas, and Saudi Arabia, that detests those two last named political Islamic fundamentalist organizations.
Following this we can say that except in the UN released report of that OFF-THE-CUFF Press conference in the presence of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which can be read at    www.un.org/offthecuff/index.asp?c… no other document, press release, or other UN paper has anything as clearly expressed as this. It is always about the suffering of the Gaza Palestinians – the poor poor innocent people that are being bombed continuously by the Israelis because they are being used as human shields to the rocket launchers that hide among them.

Not only that, it is the UN paid for and UN maintained facilities that are used as storage place for the rockets. when such a use of a facility became public the UN paid folks just turned them over to the Hamas. It is just not enough to acknowledge as the UNSG did when in Ramallah on July 22nd that UNRWA’s regular operations were “acutely affected” by the fact that they were used to store weapons. and then say that he strongly condemns “the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. I am also alarmed by Israel’s heavy response and corresponding high civilian death toll. This is the “proportionality argument” that forgets that in the World there are more then a billion Muslims and less then 10 million Jews – which would indeed mean a proportionality of 1:1,000 – or in mathematical terms each Jew killed weighs as much as 1,000 Muslims killed – this when the killing is started by people that dream of cleansing their region of the Infidel Jews.

In that video-conference from Ramallah Mr. Ban complains that in the last 5 years, the time he is UN Secretary-General this is his third time to come on an emergency mission tp the region to help in a crisis.

That means the children of Gaza are now living through the third major assault in the last five years of their lives, he said.

Obviously, the UNSG just said the truth which is that just achieving a cease-fire without demilitarization of  Gaza achieves nothing else then a short break in a continuing warfare and there is no reasn why Israel should accept this. The ridiculous fact is that Israel nevertheless did accept Egypt’s proposal to allow for just such a break and it was Hamas grand-standing that rejected it. Hamas hates Egypt perhaps even more then their hate for Israel. The ruler of Qatar sees this self destructing attitude of Hamas and has sponsored the UNSG mission in an attempt to save Hamas from Israel and from itself.

The UNSG in his trip was in Egypt as well – just to make sure Egypt does not give up its efforts in the face of this Hamas intransigence and to ask Egypt to figure out a face saving approach for Hamas so they do not look like losers. Will a united Israel cave in to such pressure that leaves the Hamas enemy look like a winner? Specially now when Hamas managed to close Israel’s link to the World by in the post downing of Malaysia 17 in the Ukraine that forces civil airlines to avoid flying over war zones.

To top this all we just received the following e-mail from UN Watch that nixes a UN were Arab States and some sworn anti-Western states are shredding the UN Charter and the UN Declaration on Human rights.

But before we post that e-mail, let us remind the UNSG that his predecessor was able to pass on the very important and here relevant PRINCIPLE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT which here translates into the responsibility of a ruling government to protect its citizens. This is something the Israeli Government is trying to do, but the Hamas that took over the governing of Gaza from the National Palestinian Authority uses its citizens as human shield to their missiles something that has to be undone by outside intervention that removes them from the business of government. Only the Palestinian Authority, with outside help, could do this. Qatar does not back the PA but Hamas. As such the Qatar money carpet used to fly te UNSG to the Middle East may have been a very bad idea. It seems that this is being realized at high levels at the UN and texts are being altered as reported today by Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press Office at the UN who speaks also for FUNCA – the Free UN Coalition For Access.

—————–

THE UN WATCH PRESENTATION TODAY IN GENEVA BEFORE THE UNHRC:

GENEVA, July 23, 2014 - The Palestinian ambassador to the UNHRC, together with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela tried but failed to silence UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer during today’s UN Emergency Session on Gaza, as he defended Israel’s right to resist Hamas aggression, and called out the hypocrisy of those who initiated the biased proceeding.

As expected, the council voted 29 to 1 (USA), with 17 abstaining (EU & others), to condemn Israel for “gross violations of international human rights,” and it created a new commission of inquiry to produce a second Goldstone Report. Click here to see the grossly one-sided resolution—and a list of the nations who ignominiously voted for it.

Testimony delivered today, 23 July 2014, by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, at the UN Human Rights Council Emergency Session on Gaza
Mr. President, I have just returned here from visiting Israel to tell this assembly, and the world, about the grave situation that I witnessed and experienced.

An entire nation—towns, villages and cities, from the Negev Desert up to the Galilee, from the Judean hills of Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv seashore—has been under brutal and relentless attack, from more than two thousand mortars, rockets and long-range missiles, fired from Gaza toward civilians in every part of the Holy Land.

Never before, in the history of Israel’s seven decades of existence, has its men, women and children come under such a massive aerial assault, forcing them, at the sound of air raid sirens day and night, to run for shelter.

And never before, in the modern history of nations, has a free and democratic society come under such sustained bombardment from a terrorist organization, one that openly strives for and celebrates the murder of civilians, and that, as its general worldview, glorifies death.

Did the world ever imagine that the ancient city of Jerusalem—sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and replete with holy places that are recognized by the United Nations as protected world heritage sites—would be deliberately targeted by indiscriminate rockets?

And yet it is.

During one air raid in Jerusalem, I ran down to the basement of a building with little children crying and traumatized. During an air raid in Tel Aviv, the neighbors of an apartment building showed great strength of spirit in defiance of terrorism, by reaching out to strangers in the shelters, as we heard the booms of the rockets above.

And as  I was seated in my airplane, about to depart and return back here to Geneva, the air raid siren went off around the airport. We all had to rush off the plane and seek shelter. You’ve heard the news today: that international airlines are now ceasing to fly to Israel because of this danger.

I believe that the world should salute this terrorized, besieged and embattled nation, which has refused to surrender to demoralization, instead showing such courage, resolve and strength of spirit in surviving—and resisting—this massive aggression.

And people should consider: Is there any precedent in world history for a nation passively to suffer a three-week bombardment of its civilian population, by more than 2,000 deadly rockets?

The attempt by Hamas to shut down Israel’s sole international airport, in a country already besieged by land from hostile forces from north to south, would constitute the strangulation of an artery vital to the life of Israel’s people and economy.

These acts of aggression also target the sovereign rights of the nations under whose flags these airplanes fly.

I ask each ambassador in this chamber to take a moment and imagine terrorists deliberately firing deadly rockets at the airports of Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, or Frankfurt; Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, or Tokyo.

How would your government react?

How long would your nation wait before doing everything in its power to exercise its right, under international law and morality, to resist such aggression?

Mr. President,

I turn now to the resolution upon which this Council will soon vote. The text before us denounces Israel, denies its right to self-defence, and disregards Hamas war crimes.

We ask: why does this Council refuse to say that which was said only two weeks ago by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

In an extraordinary moment of candor, Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi admitted, on Palestinian TV, that “each and every” Palestinian missile launched against Israeli civilians constitutes “a crime against humanity.”

And that, by contrast, Israel’s own response actions in Gaza “followed the legal procedures” because, as Hamas spokespersons admitted on TV, “the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment; but, “as for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out.”

Can any UN entity, or any individual, be truly for human rights when they refuse to say that which was said by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

Is it possible that the true purpose of this session is to silence the true victims and voices of human rights around the world by deflecting attention from the world’s worst abuses?
We ask all those who embrace hypocrisy and double standards: if in the past year you didn’t cry out whe thousands of protesters were killed and injured by Turkey, Egypt and Libya; when more victims than ever were hanged by Iran; women and children in Afghanistan were bombed; whole communities were massacred in South Sudan; hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks; 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists—
[Egypt interrupts with an objection.]
President of UNHRC Session: We have a point of order. Egypt, you have the floor.
Egypt: Mr. President, I think we are meeting today for the special session to discuss the current crisis in Gaza and the violations committed within this crisis. So I don’t see why we have a reason to discuss other issues relating to human rights situations on other countries.
United States of America: We think it is relevant to the subject under debate, and therefore you should allow the NGO to continue to speak.
Iran: We fully support the point of order made by Egypt.
Canada: We urge you to allow the NGO to complete their intervention, which is relevant to the discussions at hand.
Israel: It is important that civil society participate in this debate, and we request that you allow this NGO to continue.
Venezuela: We support the point of order made by Egypt.
Palestine: This is not a point of order, but more a clarification. The speaker will continue along the same lines if the speaker is not stopped. I would ask you not to waste any time on this so we can conclude this meeting in good time.
Cuba: It is inconceivable that a NGO should be able to come to this Council to distract us with the little time we have to debate an issue which is of such crucial importance as the genocide being committed currently against the Palestinian people.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch, with the request that he adhere to the subject matter under discussion today.

UN Watch: Thank you, Mr. President. I’ll just note that there had been some questions whether the videotape interview of the Palestinian ambassador on Palestinian TV was genuine or not, but we see that the Palestinian ambassador has just intervened—and has failed to deny those remarks. Let the record show that.

Finally, we ask: If those who refuse to speak out for Palestinians—1800 Palestinians, if not more—who were starved to death, murdered, by Assad in Syria, but you only cry out when Israel can be blamed, then you are not pro human rights, you are only anti-Israel.

Syria: We’re used to hearing this NGO creating divisions among the speakers, and speaking out of turn. It is strange to hear an NGO defending the killing of women and children, and the destruction of infrastructure in Palestine. I would hope that the speaker is no longer allowed to continue his statement.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch.

Hillel: Thank you, Mr. President. Let the world note: that in a session purportedly on Palestinian human rights, the government of Syria objected to us mentioning the 1800 Palestinians that they starved and murdered.

tel: (41-22) 734-1472 • fax: (41-22) 734-1613
www.unwatch.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Ich ergreife Partei.

Sobald israelische Angriffe auf Hamas-Terroristen in Gaza die ersten Opfer fordern, kennt die globale Empörung kein Halten mehr.
 
In ganz Europa wird gegen Israel marschiert. In Wien demonstrieren 11.000 gegen das einzige demokratische Land im Nahen Osten (sogar 30.000, wenn man den Veranstaltern glaubt). In Paris versperren muslimische und rechtsradikale Antisemiten Juden den Ausgang aus einer Synagoge, die Reihen dicht geschlossen. Dass Juden im 21. Jahrhundert mitten in einer europäischen Metropole von einem randalierenden Mob gefangen gehalten werden und um ihr Leben fürchten müssen, ruft hierzulande weniger Empörung hervor als der Text einer unnötigen Hymne, gesungen von einem unnötigen Sänger. Genau genommen gar keine.
 
Eine halbe Million Tote und 2,5 Millionen Vertriebene im Sudan. Unzählige Tote in Syrien und mehr als 1 Million syrischer Flüchtlinge, die im Libanon unter entsetzlichen Bedingungen ihr Dasein fristen. Die Massaker der ISIS, der nicht enden wollende Terror der Boko Haram. Verfolgte Christen von Ägypten bis Sudan. Vasallen Putins, die ein Flugzeug mit 289 Passagieren vom Himmel holen. Die Aufzählung des Schreckens ist beliebig fortsetzbar. Wer warnt vor der Spirale der Gewalt? Wer ruft zur Mäßigung auf? Wer fordert den Schutz der Zivilbevölkerung? Wo bleiben die Massendemonstrationen? Vergeblich warten weltweit hunderttausende Opfer von Verfolgung und Vertreibung, Verstümmelung und Mord, auf flammende Appelle Ban Ki-moons, auf Hilfe und moralische Unterstützung. 
 
Auch weil das Schweigen der Weltöffentlichkeit zu nahezu jedem Verbrechen auf dieser Erde ohrenbetäubend in meinen Ohren gellt, kann ich die scheinheiligen Friedensmahner schwer ertragen, die jetzt wieder überall das Wort ergreifen. Die sich nicht dazu äußern, wenn die Hamas tausend Raketen auf Israel abfeuert, aber in einem israelischen Wohnblock die größte Gefahr für den Weltfrieden wittern. Die nie auch nur ein einziges Mal die antisemitische Hetze in palästinensischen Medien und Schulbüchern monieren aber jedes Mal verlässlich zur Stelle sind, wenn es gilt, Israel zu mahnen. Die mir vorwerfen, nicht neutral sondern parteiisch zu sein. Selbstverständlich bin ich parteiisch! Wie kann man das denn nicht sein?
 
Auf der einen Seite steht eine islam-faschistische Terrororganisation, für deren Mitglieder, Anhänger und Mitläufer die Vernichtung von Juden identitätsstiftend ist. Die korrupten Despoten verwenden Geld, mit dem sie von der Weltgemeinschaft überschüttet werden, für die Bezahlung von Judenmördern anstatt für Infrastruktur und Bildung. Frauen gelten nichts. Oppositionelle werden verfolgt und ermordet. Schwule werden verfolgt und ermordet. Sie verstecken sich hinter ihren Frauen und Kindern, opfern sie mit zynischem Kalkül für ihre Propaganda. Sie feiern ihre Mörder als Helden anstatt sie zur Rechenschaft zu ziehen. Sie lieben den Tod mehr als das Leben. Wenn der Staat, den sie wollen, jemals Wirklichkeit wird, gibt es einen Unrechtsstaat mehr, in dem das Kollektiv alles und der einzelne nicht das Geringste gilt.
 
Auf der anderen Seite steht die einzige Demokratie im Nahen Osten. Ein Rechtsstaat, der so gut funktioniert, dass selbst Regierungsangehörige strafrechtlich belangt werden, wenn sie sich etwas zuschulden kommen lassen. In dem Araber mehr Rechte genießen als in jedem arabischen Land. Mit emanzipierten Frauen und Love Parades. Eine High-Tech Oase der Bildung und des Wissens. Mit einer Armee, die mehr als jede andere in der Geschichte versucht, zivile Opfer auf Seiten des Gegners zu vermeiden. Ein Land, das denen, die es vernichten wollen, gratis Strom liefert und in seinen Krankenhäusern deren Kranke und Verwundete versorgt. Ein Land, das jedes Leben so sehr schätzt, dass es lieber Dutzende Mörder freilässt als ein einziges wissentlich zu opfern.
 
Nur ein Lump kann in diesem Konflikt neutral sein. Nur ein Lump bewahrte zwischen Hitler und der freien Welt Äquidistanz. Niemand mit einem Funken Anstand im Leib hätte zu den Verbrechen der Nationalsozialisten geschwiegen und gleichzeitig von Roosevelt die Rechte der Schwarzen eingefordert oder bei Churchill den Schutz der deutschen Zivilbevölkerung eingemahnt.
 
Und nur ein Lump macht die Solidarität mit Israel davon abhängig, ob er mit dessen demokratisch gewählter Regierung einverstanden ist oder nicht. Ein Land, das von Nachbarn umgeben ist, die schon am Tag seiner Gründung darüber hergefallen sind und es lieber heute als morgen aus den Seiten der Geschichte löschen möchten, ein Land, das ständig um seine schiere Existenz kämpfen muss und trotzdem demokratisch und zivilisiert geblieben ist, ein solches Land hat sich jede Unterstützung und jede Sympathie verdient. Egal welcher politischen Couleur man anhängt. Ich möchte mir lieber nicht vorstellen, was aus Österreich würde, wenn jahrelang tagtäglich Raketen von Slowenien auf Kärnten herab regneten.
 
Ich halte den Sieg über die Hamas für eine unabdingbare Voraussetzung für Frieden. Wer Empathie für die palästinensische Bevölkerung empfindet, muss für die Vertreibung der Mörderbande sein, die sie regiert. Erst nachdem die Nationalsozialisten wenn schon nicht vernichtet so zumindest besiegt waren, konnte auf deutschem Boden ein demokratischer Rechtsstaat entstehen, konnten Deutsche in Frieden und Freiheit leben. Mit der Hamas kann es ebenso wenig Frieden geben wie es mit Hitler Frieden geben konnte. Free Gaza from Hamas.
 
Ja, ich bin parteiisch in diesem Konflikt. Ich ergreife Partei für Israel und schäme mich dafür, dass so wenige in meinem Land es mir gleichtun. Und noch mit meiner letzten Tinte will ich gegen die Heuchler anschreiben, die es sich in den Feuilletons bequem gemacht haben und aus ihren sicheren, warmen Stuben heraus ebenso anmaßend wie herablassend der israelischen Bevölkerung ausrichten, wie sich diese zu verhalten habe. Gegen die Zyniker, die das Missverhältnis von palästinensischen und israelischen Opfern anprangern, als dürften sich Juden erst ab einer bestimmten Zahl von Toten gegen ihre Vernichtung wehren. Gegen die Antisemiten und deren nützliche Idioten, die das Ende des Judenstaates willentlich betreiben oder unwissentlich in Kauf nehmen. Gegen die Beschwichtiger und Terrorversteher, die kein Wort des Mitgefühls für die Opfer finden, aber für jeden Anschlag und jede Rakete auf Israel eine Begründung parat haben. Gegen die Oberflächlichen, die nicht zwischen Terroristen und einer demokratisch legitimierten Armee unterscheiden können oder wollen. Gegen die moralisch Verwahrlosten, die sich an Israel abarbeiten, um die Schuld ihrer Väter zu relativieren. 
 
Es ist eine Schande, dass dies nicht selbstverständlich ist.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

July 22, 2014
Friends,“In each pause I hear the call”
Ralph Waldo EmersonThis quote has been especially front of mind this year because LRN, the company I have devoted my life to building, is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and milestones are perfect occasions to pause. Pausing and mindfulness are in vogue in the world today; there is even a meditation room in Newark airport. However, we can go so much deeper in our pauses than merely taking respite from the frenzied pace of life. As I wrote in FastCompany, “Why There’s More to Taking a Break than Just Sitting There,” pausing is essential in the 21st century, because it is what allows us to thrive in an interdependent world in which we need to think deeply about how every action we take affects others, reconnect with our values and purpose, and, from there, to re-imagine our future. It is in that spirit that I invite you to pause with me.

As a parent of two small children, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help them grow into thoughtful, ethical people. A critical piece of this is teaching them right and wrong and how to atone when they behave badly. It is easy to inadvertently teach children to treat apologies as verbal escape routes out of a problem. It is much harder to teach them to treat an apology as a moment to pause, reflect and take responsibility for the behavior that led to the act for which they are contrite.

It is a problem endemic to our society; we have an apology inflation on our hands, as it has become habitual – in business, politics, entertainment, sports – to churn out one knee-jerk apology after another in response to a public mistake. In reaction to this trend, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin and I have partnered to launch The Apology Project in the Dealbook section of the Times. The goal of the project is to elevate the conversation about apologies so that people view them as meaningful opportunities to change behavior, instead of as “get out of jail free” cards, through profiles of meaningful apologies and crowd-sourcing surveys of recent apologies.

 

Of course, parents know that the real key is to inculcate the right values in our children so that they will rely on these values to make decisions, hopefully preventing misbehavior in the first place. As hard as it might be to do this in the context of a family unit, it is even harder to do at the scale of a global corporation. This is why the work of LRN and our partners in the ethics and compliance industry is so meaningful. In our annual Knowledge Forum, where LRN gathers its partners together for learning and discussion, we reflected on how our mission is to enable employees to pause, that is, to reflect on their values, the law, and the consequences of their action or inaction (e.g. before taking a bribe, when witnessing misconduct). Ethics and compliance officers are in the “pause” business, but they aren’t alone. Anyone who is trying to provoke reflection, re-assessment, and re-imagination is in the “pause” business; it is, in fact, what leaders do. Leaders pause for themselves and create contexts in which others can pause. 

 
To pause is fundamentally human. Machines are automated and keep going unthinkingly; humans have the freedom to re-imagine and pivot to a different path. To pivot is to plant one foot on the ground and move the other foot in a new direction. To “pivot” in business, especially in Silicon Valley, means to radically shift your strategy and business model, usually because of shifts in market or customer feedback. Twitter used to be a podcast-discovery company, and PayPal used to be meant for “beaming” money between PDAs before they pivoted and landed on the right business model. Silicon Valley is truly the birthplace of the pivot, and, as I said to the crowd onstage while I was talking with Tom Friedman in this year’s Next New World Forum in San Francisco, pivoting requires pausing. To pivot is to ground one’s self in one’s beliefs, convictions and values while re-imagining a new direction that adapts to a changing world. We only have the freedom to pivot when we allow ourselves to embark on a true journey. It is when we try to follow linear calendars and budgets that we lock ourselves into our plans and operate on autopilot. 
 

More and more people are pausing to assess and re-imagine the direction in which many institutions are headed, including capitalism itself. Of course, most remain firm believers in capitalism as the best economic system for generating prosperity, but many are, nevertheless, acutely aware of its current problems (i.e. growing income inequality) and grasp the need to move capitalism in a new direction. The leaders behind Inclusive Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism (whose annual conference I had the honor of keynoting this year), Creative Capitalism, Responsible Capitalism and Capitalism 2.0 are re-imagining business in a way that is much more conscious of all stakeholders and the operating environment. Some are worried about the abuses of freedom in a free market system and want to restrict people’s freedom, but that is because they are operating from a one-sided view of freedom. Freedom is really an intricate dynamic between “freedom from” (top-down hierarchy, gatekeepers) and “freedom to” (collaborate, innovate, pursue meaning, do the right thing, etc). It is this dynamic of freedom that ought to be at the heart of free enterprise. This is not just a philosophical distinction. In LRN’s biggest study since the HOW Report, the Freedom Report shows that the companies that have the right balance of freedom are more likely to outperform, out-innovate, and be resilient for the long run.

 

Beyond capitalism, people are re-imagining every dimension of society. The National Football League (NFL), for instance, is pausing to re-define the recipe for winning. Instead of training players solely as tough performers, the League is endeavoring to infuse locker rooms with human values such as respect and collaboration, where a player can bring his whole self, as a “person, father, and husband.” LRN is honored to have the opportunity to be a part of their journey. The League isn’t the only “rough and tumble” organization that is rethinking the culture in which its people are formed.

 

Confronted with the demands of modern warfare, the U.S. Army is also re-imagining and reshaping basic training in a way that trains soldiers to pause and think critically before making decisions, instead of just following orders. Even “discipline” is being re-imagined, for as my friend Lieutenant Colonel JC Glick said, “Discipline is not about being on time. Discipline is about doing the right thing at the right time.” The world has become so relationally interdependent and complex that we are forced to hit the “pause button,” to re-imagine and re-steer the direction in which our revered institutions – capitalism, the NFL, our military – are moving.

 

How do we begin to pause? Aristotle said that excellence is not a single act but a habit. The best way to pause, then, is to begin to form habits of pausing at a young age, which is why we are working with universities to introduce the “HOW” philosophy. The NROTC program at Miami University of Ohio is creatively adopting the HOW philosophy to train emerging Navy and Marine leaders in approaching ethical dilemmas. Elsewhere in the academy, Israeli students at Tel-Aviv Yaffo College are partnering with companies to conduct culture assessments, North Dakota State University students are running HOW workshops with representatives from academic departments, and Baruch College, a senior college of the City University of New York system, has partnered with us and declared 2014 the Year of the HOW. We are planting seeds in the next wave of leaders by enabling them to pause from the hustle-and-bustle of testing and build moral character—it is hard to think of a more meaningful endeavor.
 
 
Thank you for allowing me to share with you what has been on my mind in the past few months. I welcome any comments, questions or feedback, and I would love to hear from you as to where you are in your journey as well.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dov Seidman

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Call for UN Reforms After Ban Flies on Qatar-Funded, UK Registered Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press at the UN – Follow up on exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, July 21, more hereWhy shouldn’t the UN be able to live up the most basic standards of transparency and good government?

   Inner City Press, and now the Free UN Coalition for Access, have been asking this question. From the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 12:55

Inner City Press: As I asked you before, and I know that you had said you would answer at some point, how did the Secretary-General fly from New York to Qatar?  Was it on a Qatari plane, and what safeguards are in place? Would he take a flight from any nation?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Okay, Matthew, it was the Qatari Government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the Secretary-General to enable him to go about his visit.  This is not the kind of visit that we could do if we were not flying on a private plane.  It is not a Qatari plane; it was chartered.  It is a British-registered plane, as some of you will be able to see on the photos.  But, it is a private aircraft funded by the Qatari Government.

   Should the UN Secretary General in a mediation attempt accept free travel from a country with a particular interest in the conflict to be mediated?

   What review should take place? What disclosures should be made, and when? From later in the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 31:

 

Inner City Press: you are saying that the use of private planes, generically if necessary, is signed off by the ethics office, but my question is, private planes provided by anyone? Would the Secretary-General, would he accept such service from any Member State, or would he accept it from corporations? The question becomes, given that particular countries have different views of the conflict, what review is made before accepting a particular country’s contribution?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, we do have, like I said, an ethics office and a legal office that can look into these things and see whether something is appropriate or not.

Inner City Press: Was this particular flight checked or you’re saying there’s a generic ruling in advance that any private plane is okay?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: No, I don’t think there’s a generic ruling about this, but certainly, if you need to justify this for essential needs, and something like this, a trip that the Secretary-General was able to embark on and made the decision on just at the end of last week and then had to travel, starting Saturday evening, something like that would have been extremely hard or basically impossible to do in a different sort of way.

Inner City Press: I’m asking because in the budget Committee, often many, particularly developing world countries, they say that things should be funded out of the UN’s general budget rather than taking voluntary contributions from States that then have influence. So, my question is, isn’t there a travel budget? We’ve asked in this room many times to know what the budget is, so I’d still like to know that. But, if there is a budget, why wasn’t the general UN budget used for this rather than taking a specific gift from a specific country? That’s the question.

Deputy Spokesman Haq: The worry is, of course, if you run out of money early, does that mean you can’t travel, even if there’s a crisis? In this case, there was a crisis that necessitated sudden travel.

  Inner City Press broke the story on July 19 — credit has been given, for example, by Newsweek, here — and has been asking Ban’s spokespeople for disclosure and what safeguards are in place.

   Lead spokesman Dujarric replied but did not answer on July 19. When he called in to the UN noon briefing from Cairo on July 21, Inner City Press asked him again on whose plane Ban is traveling.

  This time, Dujarric answered that Ban is flying on a Qatar government funded, UK registered plane.  But he did not answer if there are any safeguards against influence or conflicts of interest. Would Ban accept free flights from any UN member state? From anyone at all?

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, who said  the UN Ethics Office said taking private planes is okay when necessary.

  But private planes from ANYONE? Any member state? A corporation? There have been no real answers, yet. But there need to be.

 Diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban would fly — on a Qatari plane — to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 Inner City Press asked Ban’s top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:

“Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.

“Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.

From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.

     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:

 

 

From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG’s trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.

best

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

  But obviously the “logistical details” of getting to Qatar were worked out – Ban had already been to Qatar, then Kuwait before Cairo.

  One asked, what can you solve if you can’t even say how you got there?

  Inner City Press thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, “both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko’s office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?”

  On July 21, Inner City Press asked Haq, who confirmed the calls took place but nothing about the contents. What is happened with the UN?
The Free UN Coalition for Access is pressing for reforms.
We’ll have more on this.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Washington Post: Shifa Hospital in Gaza City ‘Has Become a De Facto Headquarters for Hamas Leaders, Who Can Be Seen in Hallways and Offices.’

July 21, 2014 11:00 am

Author:  Joshua Levitt

A screenshot of a Hamas diagram, filmed as part of an IDF video from 2009's Operation Cast Lead, showing how weapons are hidden by mosques. Photo: IDF / Screenshot.

A screenshot of a Hamas diagram, filmed as part of an IDF video from 2009′s Operation Cast Lead, showing how weapons are hidden by mosques. Photo: IDF / Screenshot.

Contrary to international rules of warfare, Hamas has commandeered a large hospital in Gaza City as its “de facto headquarters,” the Washington Post reported.

Buried eight paragraphs in, The Post‘s correspondent, William Booth, wrote on July 15:

“At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling ‘unity government’ in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.”

Last week, The Post also reported, and also included near the end of an article, how Hamas was hiding rockets inside of a mosque, also against international rules of war. On Friday, buried toward’s the end of The Post’s dispatch from the front, one of its correspondents reported actually seeing rockets being moved into the mosque during Thursday’s five-hour humanitarian ceasefire:

“During the lull, a group of men at a mosque in northern Gaza said they had returned to clean up the green glass from windows shattered in the previous day’s bombardment. But they could be seen moving small rockets into the mosque.”

According to international rules of military engagement,  civilian public and religious buildings cannot to be used to shield weapons, but that has been a long-held Hamas tactic in Gaza.

On Thursday, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said it discovered 20 rockets hidden in a vacant school it operated in Gaza.

UNRWA said the rockets were discovered during a “regular inspection” and that it immediately “informed the relevant parties and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school.”

The UNRWA came under criticism on social media for handing the rockets back to the “relevant parties,” who readers interpreted as being the Hamas militants who hid the arms in the school.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

GLOSSARY

CCAC
COP
ECOWAS
GWP
HFCs
HLA
OECD
SLCPs
SAP
SNAP
UNEA
UNEP
UNFCCC
WHO
Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants
Conference of the Parties
Economic Community of West African States
Global warming potential
Hydrofluorocarbons
CCAC High-level Assembly
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Short-lived Climate Pollutants
Scientific Advisory Panel
Supporting National Planning for Action on SLCPs
United Nations Environment Assembly
United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
World Health Organization

 


CCAC Bulletin
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)
PDF format
Adobe Reader PDF
Volume 172 Number 16 – Sunday, 20 July 2014
SUMMARY OF THE WORKING GROUP MEETING OF THE CLIMATE AND CLEAN AIR COALITION TO REDUCE SHORT-LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANTS
16-17 JULY 2014
The Working Group meeting of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) convened in Paris, France, from 16-17 July 2014. The meeting was attended by more than 90 participants, representing state and non-state partners of the CCAC, its Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), the CCAC Secretariat and observers.

Over the two days of the meeting, the Working Group heard updates on partners’ activities and considered new initiatives. It approved requests by two new organizations to join the Coalition, bringing the total number of partners to 93. The Working Group also discussed preparations for the upcoming CCAC High-level Assembly (HLA) and the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, both of which will be held in New York in September 2014. The SAP updated the Working Group on its work. The CCAC also discussed its vision for moving forward and strategies for engaging partners and increasing capacities.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CCAC

The CCAC is a voluntary international coalition of governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which focuses on addressing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs). The CCAC was created in February 2012 by Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the US, together with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). It is open to countries and non-state actors wishing to join the coalition, and currently consists of 93 partners with 40 country partners and 53 non-state partners.

SLCPs include black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These pollutants have a near-term warming influence on the climate, and, in many cases, are also harmful air pollutants that affect human health, agriculture and ecosystems. The objectives of the CCAC include raising awareness of impacts and transformative mitigation strategies of SLCPs. It also seeks to: enhance and develop new national and regional actions; promote best practices and showcase successful efforts; and improve scientific understanding of SLCP impacts and mitigation strategies.

INITIATIVES: The CCAC has approved 10 initiatives. Its seven sectoral initiatives include:

  • accelerating methane and black carbon reductions from oil and natural gas production;
  • addressing SLCPs from agriculture;
  • mitigating SLCPs and other pollutants from brick production;
  • mitigating SLCPs from municipal solid waste;
  • promoting HFC alternative technology and standards;
  • reducing black carbon emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines; and
  • reducing SLCPs from household cooking and domestic heating.

The CCAC also has three cross-cutting initiatives on: financing mitigation of SLCPs; regional assessments of SLCPs; and supporting national planning for action on SLCPs (SNAP).

GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE: The CCAC institutional structure includes the HLA, Working Group, Steering Committee, SAP and Secretariat.

The HLA consists of ministers of state partners and heads of non-state partners. It meets at least once a year to provide strategic guidance and leadership to the CCAC. The Working Group includes focal points from each CCAC partner. It convenes at least twice a year to oversee activities.

The CCAC also has a Steering Committee composed of the two Working Group Co-Chairs, four state partners, one representative of international organizations and one NGO representative. The Steering Group meets every month to provide oversight support and recommendations to the HLA and Working Group. Current members of the Steering Group are Nigeria, Sweden, Canada, Jordan, Mexico, the US, the World Bank and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.

The CCAC Secretariat is hosted by UNEP in its Division of Technology, Industry and Economics in Paris, France. The SAP consists of 14 scientists, including the UNEP Chief Scientist.

REPORT OF THE CCAC WORKING GROUP MEETING

OPENING: On Wednesday morning, 16 July, Co-Chair Annika Markovic (Sweden) opened the CCAC Working Group meeting. She highlighted upcoming milestones, including the HLA and the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, both to take place in New York in September 2014. She also identified the need to agree on a new initiative focusing on the health sector and urban air pollution, and consider the way forward beyond the September meetings. She welcomed Kenya, India and the Philippines which had been invited to observe the meeting together with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

Ligia Noronha, UNEP, expressed satisfaction that the CCAC was more than a “coalition of the willing” and has shown itself to be a “coalition of the working.” She stressed the timeliness of the Working Group meeting. Regarding the way forward, she identified HFCs, waste and kerosene as important issues that need to be addressed.

UPDATE ON PARTNERSHIP AND CCAC: New partners: On Wednesday morning, Co-Chair Bahijjahtu Abubakar (Nigeria) reported on new partners that had joined the CCAC since the previous Working Group meeting in April (WG/JUL2014/2). The Working Group approved the applications of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement to join the CCAC, bringing the total number of partners to 93.

Partners in Action: CCAC partners presented on new data, achievements and opportunities.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlighted the main findings of the report “The Cost of Air Pollution: Health Impacts of Road Transport,” released in May 2014. She explained that new data from WHO shows that the number of deaths related to outdoor air pollution is much higher than previously believed, estimated at 3.5 million in 2012.

The OECD underscored that the economic cost of deaths from outdoor pollution in OECD countries amounted to approximately US$1.6 trillion in 2010. She noted that while the number of deaths caused by air pollution has reduced by 3.5% in some OECD countries, 14 of the 34 OECD members have shown worse statistics in this regard.

The OECD underscored the contribution of road transport to outdoor air pollution, saying its role has been particularly critical in countries such as India and China. She outlined actions to reduce pollution identified in the report, including: removing incentives to purchase diesel cars; maintaining and strengthening regulatory regimes; implementing more ambitious climate mitigation actions; continuing research on the economic value of morbidity impacts of air pollution; and paying attention to the most vulnerable populations.

Presenting on national actions, Chile noted that over 4,000 premature deaths are estimated to be caused by air pollution with transport as the most critical sector. He said the Chilean Government intends to establish a 2015-2019 strategy, including on sustainable heating and transport programmes.

Regarding the CCAC, Chile reported on work launched to address heavy-duty emissions in ports, municipal solid waste, methane and brick production. He said future steps include encouraging behavioral change, reducing housing energy demand and developing cleaner heating technologies. On the transport sector, he noted the development of retrofit and freight programmes.

Mali drew attention to important opportunities to reduce SLCPs in Mali and reported on national initiatives addressing, inter alia: emissions from heavy-duty diesel; air pollution in Bamako and other major cities; wood stoves; and black carbon emissions from open burning in agriculture.

Business for Social Responsibility emphasized the importance of private sector engagement to make CCAC a “coalition of winning.” He underscored the need to communicate in a way that is more accessible for business, saying issues should be framed in a way that speaks to narrow business interests. He proposed preparing short reports that concentrate on essential issues and business interests.

Business for Social Responsibility further highlighted the importance of engaging private sector coalitions in the CCAC discussions. He highlighted the diversity of the business sector, emphasizing the need to identify the most effective ways of engaging with it, for example, by taking into consideration the market share of involved organizations.

Switzerland announced a contribution of CHF2 million to the CCAC over a three-year period until 2017. Mexico underscored initiatives on black carbon and brick production in a national strategy and drew attention to increasing cooperation within Latin America on SLCPs.

Bangladesh reported on new national legislation on brick production criteria and a regulation on HFCs. He also drew attention to cooperation between Bangladesh and the World Bank on clean air and sustainable development. Sweden highlighted work in the Arctic Council to reduce black carbon and methane emissions, and announced a new contribution of SEK3 million to the CCAC.

 ClimateWorks Foundation highlightedthe role of non-carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gases in achieving the 2°C climate temperature target. She noted that a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 and a 80% reduction by 2075 will lead to an average of 3.4°C of warming. She underscored calculations showing that reducing methane emissions by 26% by 2030, black carbon by 20%, F-gases by 49% and nitrous oxide by 7% can achieve important progress towards the 2°C target in the near-term, if quick action is taken.

Côte d’Ivoire reported on the set-up of an inter-ministerial committee to work on SLCPs with increasing interaction between different ministries on environment, agriculture, health and communication, contributing to increased public awareness of SLCP impacts.  He also noted a national alliance for clean cook stoves. The Russian Federation highlighted the St. Petersburg Initiative launched at the Baltic Sea Forum in April 2013. He explained that the initiative focuses on air quality and sustainable maritime transportation.

The US underscored the CCAC as a vital venue for exchanging experience on SLCPs. He reported that the US has recently launched a national methane strategy. Morocco announced the creation of a national charter for sustainable development, and the task force meeting to be held in Rabat in September 2014. She highlighted this as an occasion for multiple stakeholders to meet, particularly on air pollution, and invited CCAC partners to attend.

OECD said the OECD environmental review, which takes place every five years, has been extended to some non-OECD countries such as Brazil, China and South Africa. She highlighted further research on the social costs of energy taxation and on promoting greater private sector engagement in low carbon transportation. She explained that CCAC partners could benefit from this review and methodology.

Ethiopia highlighted national action on cook stoves and solid waste. India highlighted the importance of black carbon emissions and reported that work has already been undertaken in most sectors to address: improved design of brick kilns; alternative uses for crop residues so that they are not burnt in the fields; and bio-gas generation as well as bio-methanation or composting of municipal solid waste.

India further called for greater opportunities to share experiences, in particular, to address black carbon and to consider low-cost particulate traps to reduce particulate emissions from diesel vehicles, fuel quality upgrade and fuel efficiency norms. He also stressed that, for a paradigm shift, a new breakthrough is necessary. Kenya reported work on many of the mentioned areas and expressed interest in sharing their experiences.

Nigeria announced new investments in solar energy from the Clean Technology Fund. He also highlighted a Presidential initiative to provide a million clean cook stoves by November 2014.

Outreach: On outreach and partners in action (WG/JUL2014/3), Co-Chair Markovic highlighted CCAC engagement in the context of:  the Abu Dhabi Ascent in preparation for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit; Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All); and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for enhanced Action (ADP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Co-Chair Abubakar noted a forthcoming ADP workshop on non-CO2 greenhouse gases in October and drew attention to increasing interaction between the CCAC and the UNFCCC, emphasizing that the two processes are complementary. She also reported on various other outreach activities.

The CCAC Secretariat emphasized the importance of visibility and reported on discussions in Abu Dhabi between Coalition partners and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She highlighted the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) as a great opportunity for CCAC partners to discuss air quality. She also noted media roundtables with journalists and a green room event on the CCAC held during the UNEA.

The CCAC Secretariat also emphasized the 20th session of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 20) in Lima, Peru, as an important outreach opportunity.

Drawing attention to the agreed template for CCAC partners to share information about their activities, the CCAC Secretariat noted submissions from 15 partners and invited more of them to submit information on their activities using the template. Co-Chair Markovic stressed the importance of collecting and disseminating stories on action by CCAC partners. She encouraged partners to share information on their activities with the Coalition and others.

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL’S CLIMATE SUMMIT MILESTONE FOR CCAC: This issue was considered on Wednesday morning and afternoon.

Cynthia Scharf, UN Secretary-General’s Office, updated participants on preparations for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit (WG/JUL2014/5). She commended the CCAC as an “exciting partnership,” stressing the role of the SLCP agenda in showing that results are feasible and giving people hope that progress towards the 2°C climate target is possible.

Scharf reported that all heads of state have been invited to the Summit, along with heads of business, the private sector, financial sector and NGOs. She highlighted the Summit’s two goals of mobilizing political will for the 2015 Paris climate agreement and catalyzing ambitious action on the ground given that the new climate agreement will only apply from 2020 onwards.

On the structure of the Summit, Scharf explained that the morning will consist of statements by heads of state in three parallel plenary sessions. In the afternoon, sessions focusing on multilateral and multi-stakeholder action announcements will take place on each of the 10 Action Areas identified in the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, including SLCPs. She explained that in parallel, thematic sessions will be held on science, co-benefits, economic case for action and voices from the frontlines.

Questions were raised concerning, inter alia: the role of ministers; criteria for allocating countries to the various sessions; time allocated for heads of state to speak; how to help heads of states to choose which session to attend; and links to the UNFCCC process. Scharf clarified that statements by heads of state will be limited to less than five minutes and countries will be allocated to the three parallel plenaries based on alphabetical order or UN protocol. She said countries that are not invited to chair sessions may choose freely the sessions they wish to attend in the afternoon.

Scharf stressed that the objective of the Summit is to engage heads of state, but that there will be opportunities for ministers to participate in private meetings. She noted that while there is no formal link between the UNFCCC and the Summit, the objective is to build political momentum around climate change. She specified that the UNFCCC parties will decide whether to use the Chair’s summary of the Summit as a contribution to the UNFCCC negotiations.

CCAC Initiatives for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit: Participants presented on potential initiatives for the CCAC to showcase at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit.

On HFC Phase Down, one of the lead partners underscored that while HFCs are not dangerous for the ozone layer, they are powerful greenhouse gases and their emissions are growing rapidly. He added that due to their high global warming potential (GWP), the increase in HFCs can cancel the impact of climate change mitigation efforts addressing CO2 emissions.

The lead partner noted that discussions on global HFC phase down currently focus on four deliverables: refrigerant management; reducing emissions in the cold-food chain; public procurement of climate friendly alternatives; and global phase down of production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

On the Green Freight Programme, one of the lead partners highlighted “significant” stakeholder engagement after the call to action at the HLA in Warsaw in 2013 and explained that work has started in the US, Canada, Mexico, Bangladesh and Vietnam. He noted that the objective is to promote, enhance and scale up green freight programmes. As a deliverable, he proposed engaging high-level industry and government sign up and implementation of the action plan.

On the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, one of the lead partners highlighted upstream methane emissions as one of the four key areas of climate change mitigation identified by the International Energy Agency. He outlined ongoing efforts to engage companies in this public-private partnership through Memoranda of Understanding, and called for governments and companies with connections to the relevant companies to support the launch.

On the Municipal Solid Waste Initiative, one of the lead partners emphasized landfills as the third largest anthropogenic source of methane emissions and an important source of black carbon. He identified the need to improve waste management through proven technologies and move cities up in the “waste hierarchy.”  Reporting that 26 cities currently participate in the initiative and the goal is to engage 50 cities by 2016, he said replication would be driven by collaboration between cities and linkages with national governments.

On Agriculture, one of the lead partners explained that the aim is to share and implement best practices for minimizing SLCPs from agriculture in a way that ensures climate change mitigation benefits and enhances food security. He identified livestock, paddy rice and open burning in agriculture as the three focus areas. He also invited participants to assist in the designation of a “champion case” to be highlighted at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit under the Agriculture Action Area.

The World Bank presented on the Pilot Auction Facility for Methane and Climate Change Mitigation (PAF), saying the initial focus of this pilot project is on methane and on maximizing the involvement of the private sector.

Speaking for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Co-Chair Abubakar informed the Working Group of a statement that ECOWAS intends to deliver at the Climate Summit, underscoring the impact of indoor air pollution on deaths in ECOWAS countries and emphasizing the goal of focusing on clean cooking and phasing out kerosene lighting. She also noted the intention of ECOWAS to commend the work of the CCAC and suggest the establishment of a regional CCAC Working Group.

Following discussion, Co-Chair Markovic noted the plan to present the initiatives on oil and gas, HFCs, green freight and municipal solid waste during the Action Area on SLCPs at the Climate Summit.

Outreach: Côte d’Ivoire presented on a communications plan for the Summit and HLA. He noted the intention to draw attention to SLCPs through opinion editorials before the Summit. He outlined plans, inter alia, for a CCAC press release in context of the HLA. He also noted plans for: a press briefing at the UN Climate Summit media room; photos and stories from the Assembly and Summit in social media; UNEP-DTIE photo exhibit outside the UN headquarters; and a launch of a health and air pollution campaign on 24 September 2014.

NEXT HIGH-LEVEL ASSEMBLY: Participants discussed the next HLA, focusing on the proposed agenda (WG/JUL2014/7). They addressed, inter alia, private sector engagement; key deliverables for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit and for the CCAC more broadly; announcements on domestic commitments; and engagement of new partners and observers.

SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL: This issue was considered on Thursday morning, 17 July.

Update on SAP work: The Working Group considered an update on SAP work and plans. SAP member Johan Kuylenstierna, University of York and Stockholm Environment Institute, presented on the SAP’s role in finalizing the CCAC’s Time to Act report. He emphasized the need to communicate the importance of addressing SLCPs for near-term climate change and public health, as well as food and energy security.

Kuylenstierna explained, inter alia, that: the net total impact of black carbon remains almost the same compared to the previous year; shifts in rainfall patterns remain a significant challenge for livelihoods; and uncertainties concerning the influence of aerosols remain significant. He highlighted key messages from the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change regarding SLCPs, including the evaluation of metrics. He explained that the use of GWP risks being misleading in the case of SLCPs and that the AR5 does not endorse any particular time horizon or metric.

SAP members also re-emphasized that the CCAC’s focus on SLCPs does not substitute CO2 mitigation, but acts as a complementary effort to tackle climate change with public health, ecosystem and other air quality benefits, as set out in the Coalition Framework.

On health and SLCPs, Andy Haines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, highlighted the powerful links between black carbon and ozone depletion as a major cause of death. A.R. Ravishankara, University of Colorado, briefed the Coalition on latest HFC research, as released in the Ozone report of WMO/UNEP. Concerning freight, he noted that methane leakage is critical and indicated that rules for chemicals trade tend to become stricter.

During discussion, SAP members also noted a forthcoming SLCP research agenda briefing, which will serve as outreach towards other scientific experts and further the work of the CCAC, notably through the development of a roster of experts to bridge some knowledge gaps. Briefing notes on the economic case, kerosene lamps are also being prepared by SAP.

Issues raised during discussion included: the choice of metrics; communications strategies for the UNFCCC COP in Lima; linkages between SLCPs and health; the relationship between fracking and SLCPs; improvement of the CCAC website; and recruitment of a new scientific expert to the CCAC Secretariat.

SAP members responded by, inter alia, clarifying differences between GWP and global temperature potential and the impact of different time horizons. They recognized that the Kyoto Protocol uses GWP and that changing the metrics would be difficult. They noted the rapidly changing conditions of fracking procedures and investments, while pointing out the need to address linkages between health and SLCPs through an economic perspective.

SAP membership and roster of experts: On the SAP membership rotation plan (WG/JUL2014/9), SAP members recalled that the panel currently has only 14 instead of 15 members as indicated in its terms of reference. They recommended that an expert with a background in agriculture should fill this vacancy. They also suggested the expansion of the SAP number of experts through the creation of an extended list of experts available for consultation as a roster of experts (WG/JUL2014/10).

It was also noted that six SAP members are reaching the end of their two-year term. The Working Group agreed to renew the term of the other six SAP members, if they wish to remain in the SAP. The issue of SAP membership will be considered further at the next Working Group meeting in September.

The Working Group concluded the discussion by emphasizing the overarching goal of the CCAC to focus on the benefits of significantly curbing SLCPs for fighting climate change and that this should remain the guiding principle of the Coalition’s work. One participant stated that “magnitude matters more than the metrics,” with which SAP members agreed.

VISION FOR MOVING FORWARD: On Thursday morning, the Working Group discussed the CCAC vision for moving forward (WG/JUL2014/6).

INITIATIVES: On Thursday morning, the Working Group considered proposed new initiatives. Co-Chair Markovic explained that lead partners oversee the development and implementation of initiatives. Countries that are not coalition members can join initiatives as actors but do not become coalition members. She noted that 10 initiatives have been approved thus far and that all new initiatives are first reviewed and then approved by the Working Group. She also explained that activities under initiatives can be funded through funding requests.

WHO presented on an initiative focusing on realizing health benefits from SLCPs in cities (WG/JUL2014/11 and WG/JUL2014/12). He highlighted that: more than seven million people die annually from air pollution; its role in causing heart disease and strokes is not well known; and the local healthcare sector could play a more active role in providing advice on best ways to address SLCPs. Justifying the focus on the local-level, he underscored the importance of cities as sources of air pollution, especially in developing countries.

WHO also noted that many relevant policies, such as those on waste management and transport, involve local-level decision-making. He explained that the initiative aims to support policy choices and behaviors that realize SLCP reductions and maximize health benefits in cities, and equip urban health and development sectors with knowledge, tools, strengthened capacity, collaborative frameworks and awareness-raising. WHO noted that the initiative will develop tools for assessment, monitoring and evaluation, and disseminate results to city networks.

Norway emphasized that this “transformative” initiative will bring local-level benefits to developing counties in addition to addressing climate change. She noted the emphasis on capacity building at many levels, highlighting that the initiative will also empower poor and affected people, helping them to avoid exposure to air pollution.

During discussion, many participants commended the initiative and some expressed interest in joining it. The Working Group approved the proposal as a concept and agreed that a revised proposal will be presented at its September meeting along with a funding proposal.

The World Bank, with the ClimateWorks Foundation, presented the main findings of the report on climate-smart development, which examines the multiple benefits of policies related to transportation and energy efficiency in industry and buildings in different country-contexts. Focusing on Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the US and the European Union, the report shows, through a quantitative analysis, that emission reductions and economic development can be complementary.

UNEP underscored opportunities to engage with the Global Environment Facility to develop projects on SLCPs, highlighting projects on smart agriculture, urban sustainable policies, air conditioning and refrigeration.

In the afternoon, participants considered a new initiative model, governance and process for CCAC (WG/JUL2014/13). Canada and the US reported on the work of the task force dedicated to this issue, noting that the proposal aims to enhance the CCAC’s efficiency by simplifying procedures for funding and revision of proposals. The Working Group approved the proposal with agreement to address minor issues at a later stage.

STRATEGIC DISCUSSION ON ENGAGING PARTNERS AND INCREASING CAPACITIES: This issue was taken up on Thursday afternoon.  The Working Group considered how the CCAC can engage the private sector more systematically, including proposed specific goals for private sector engagement (WG/JUL2014/14). It agreed to the private sector engagement plan as proposed by the CCAC Secretariat.

The Working Group also considered the proposed tasks of the Capacity Strengthening Advisory Group and participation in the group (WG/JUL2014/15). During discussion, participants stressed, inter alia, the need for strong donor presence in the group, as well as participation by developing countries and international organizations with experience in capacity development. The full composition of the Working Group will be considered at the Working Group meeting in September.

The Working Group considered an update on SNAP institutional strengthening activities to support CCAC developing country partners to further coordinate and scale up activities to reduce SLCPs and increase their participation in CCAC activities and decision-making. During discussion, it was noted that 14 developing countries have expressed interest in participating in this initiative. Participants also highlighted the need to take into consideration lessons from similar activities under the Montreal Protocol and other agreements.

HOUSEKEEPING: On Thursday afternoon, the Working Group considered various housekeeping issues, including: update on the CCAC Secretariat staffing (WG/JUL2014/16); overview of the CCAC Trust Fund (WG/JUL2014/16); invitation for pledges to the Trust Fund; review and approval of the compiled document with all Coalition decisions on partnership (WG/JUL2014/17); CCAC meeting dates in 2015 (WG/JUL2014/18), including possible additional HLAs in 2014 and in 2015; preparations for the mid-term evaluation; update on CCAC Annual Progress Report; and launch plans for a new website (WG/JUL2014/19).

The Working Group also considered a draft revision to the coalition framework (WG/JUL2014/8), identifying the need to insert some further revisions, including on extending the CCAC mandate beyond 2017 and defining a new deadline. It also discussed composition of the CCAC Steering Committee, with the objective that the new Steering Committee will start working after the HLA in September.

CLOSE OF THE MEETING: Co-Chair Markovic thanked her Co-Chair, participants, the CCAC Secretariat and interpreters for their work during the meeting. She said she looks forward to having the CCAC featured prominently in the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September and closed the meeting at 6:00pm.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Evening Edition: ‘Very high possibility’ of Gaza invasion, Israeli official says and other headlines for this evening, Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

By Sudarsan Raghavan,, William Booth and Ruth Eglash July 16 at 6:56 PM – for The Washington Post.

JERUSALEM — On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a “very high possibility.”

Israel announced that it will observe a unilateral “humanitarian truce” for five hours Thursday to allow Gaza residents to stock up on food and other supplies and let aid reach civilians. The pause in fighting was requested by the United Nations, said another military official, army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

It was unclear whether Hamas would also hold its fire. The militant group rejected an earlier cease-fire proposed by Egypt, and a top Hamas leader declared that the Islamist militant group is alone in the world as it battles Israel.

Hamas continued to shower rockets Wednesday into southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv, underscoring the extent to which the militants believe they still have the military capability to persuade Israel to accept their terms, analysts said.

“From their rationale, they are holding strong, as if they have nothing to lose,” said Miri Eisen, a former Israeli army intelligence official. She added, “If they feel they have nothing to lose, they can continue this for a long time.”

That attitude is increasing pressure on Israel. Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes have killed hundreds of Palestinians but have done little to stop Hamas rockets from striking Israeli towns. Human rights activists are accusing Israel of killing innocent civilians and possibly committing war crimes. Egypt, once a reliable ally, no longer seems to have the negotiating clout it once had.

All this is generating discussions — within Israeli political and military circles and on television, radio and editorial pages — of a possible ground invasion of Gaza in the coming days. In Tel Aviv, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters Wednesday that there was “a very high possibility” of such an operation, adding, “If you want to efficiently fight terrorism, you need to have boots on the ground.”

More than 113 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military.

By Wednesday night, 222 people had been killed in Gaza during the nine-day operation, including 49 minors and 24 women, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,600 people have been wounded in Gaza, the officials said.

Among the latest casualties were four Palestinian children, all younger than 12, who were killed by an Israeli missile or shell while playing on a beach in Gaza near a hotel used by foreign journalists, according to witnesses and Palestinian officials. The four boys were cousins. Seven others — adults and children — were reported wounded in the strike.

The Israeli army, calling the incident tragic, said the target had been a Hamas operative.

President Obama addressed the situation in brief White House remarks. Although he did not specifically mention the beach deaths, he said, “We are all heartbroken by the violence .?.?. especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza.” Obama said the United States would continue to “use all our diplomatic resources and relationships” to bring about a lasting cease-fire. “In the meantime,” he said, “we are going to support efforts to protect civilians in Israel and Gaza.”

 

Message to the Congregation: Israel

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

July 16, 2014

Dear Congregants:

 

I hope that you have been able to slow down a bit during the summer, and are finding some time for rest and relaxation.

 

As you know, it has been a tense and trying summer for Israelis. Many of us have family and friends in Israel, as well as children who are on summer programs. We continue to pray for their safety and well being.

 

I would like to emphasize the following basic values:

 

 

  1. Israel is on the front lines of the Western war against Islamic extremism that considers Israel to be an illegitimate presence in the Middle East. Israel deserves the political and moral support of all Western nations and freedom-loving people.
  1. Israeli military operations are defensive in nature. No country would – or should – allow missiles to be fired on its cities and towns. The indiscriminate firing on Israeli civilians is a war crime. Every single missile fired from Gaza constitutes a war crime. The Hamas use of Palestinian civilian human shields is a war crime.
  1. We have noted the extraordinary care employed by the Israel Defense Forces in avoiding civilian casualties. There is no other military in the world that takes such extensive precautions. At the same time we lament the suffering of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire, and grieve for the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. They deserve better than Hamas. Hamas bears the primary political and moral responsibility for their senseless suffering.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in revenge. We are appalled that Jews could carry out such acts of terror.
  1. The discussion on the disproportionate numbers of Palestinian casualties relative to Israeli casualties is a moral outrage. Israel has invested billions of dollars in defensive capabilities – shelters, warning systems, civilian preparation and anti-missile technology (partially funded by US citizens). Israel does everything it can to prevent Palestinian civilian harm, including calling off bombing missions in mid flight if pilots perceive excessive risk to civilians nearby. The moral question is not whether casualties on one side are greater than the other. Rather, the question is whether the military action is proportional to the threat. Hamas rockets threaten most of Israel; they have reached as far as Haifa in the north. Millions of Israelis live under constant threat of missile attacks. In fact, many in Israel and its supporters worldwide consider the current Israeli measures not strong enough proportional to the threat.

Action

 

Traditionally, American Jews have helped Israel in times of crisis by donating funds and joining a solidarity mission to Israel. We encourage you to do both.

 

Accordingly, we have established an Israel Emergency Fund at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check made out to Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, clearly marked for Israel Emergency Fund. You can also donate online with a credit card here www.swfs.org/donate/.  

 

Representatives of the synagogue board of trustees and Israel committee will decide upon the distribution of the funds. All of the money will be forwarded to worthy causes; none of the funds will be retained by the synagogue.

 

Also: SWFS has arranged a mission to Israel from October 17-22, 2014. Journalist Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, a New York Times bestseller, will accompany us throughout our five days in Israel for a unique opportunity to engage Israeli and Palestinian leaders who shape events in the Middle East I urge you to consider joining. For mission information, contact Donna Levine or call 212-877-4050 x223.

 

If you would like additional talking points and links to media outlets, please email our Israel committee, chaired by Alan Scheiner, at SWFS Israel and ask to be added to the mailing list so that you will receive regular updates.

 

With continuing prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,

 

Ammi's signature

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

New York City

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Nothing Makes Hamas Happier Than Dead Palestinians.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Nothing plays better in the mainstream media these days than wailing Gazans, mourning their dead from Israeli missile strikes  responding to the unprovoked deluge of Hamas rockets on the Jewish state. As Ben Wedeman (CNN) recently reported from Jabalia, “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” But Gaza civilians most need protection from Hamas. Its leaders intentionally jeopardize their lives  by embedding rocket-launching and ammunition storage sites in schools, mosques and hospitals located in civilian neighborhoods.

In Gaza, recruits for martyrdom in the holy war against Israel are urged to gather on rooftops. They are instructed by their demented leaders to serve as a human shield against Israeli retribution for thousands of rockets that have been fired into the Jewish state during the past week. The designated locations for martyrdom are not random. Beneath the rooftops are Hamas command centers and tunnels, where leaders take refuge and weapons are stored.

According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” He proudly cited the exemplary “martyr” Nizar Riyan, the senior Hamas leader during the 2009 Gaza war. Receiving a warning phone call from the IDF to evacuate his house, he chose to remain in place, thereby consigning his four wives, ten children and himself to martyrdom from the Israeli air strike that he knew was imminent.

Last Sunday, following rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area, the IDF dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to evacuate their homes in advance of a retaliatory military strike to destroy embedded rocket launchers. After 4000 residents heeded the Israeli warning the Hamas Interior Ministry urged them to disregard “random messages to instill panic” and return “immediately” to their homes, the better to become human shields and gain world attention.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed (Bloomberg, July 11), “Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.” Why not? Dead Palestinians “represent a crucial propaganda victory” for an inhumane regime that has abjectly failed to provide its own people with even the most minimal amenities of civilized life: safety, food, employment, education, medical care. (It is an irony seldom noted that Gazans are still admitted for treatment in Israeli hospitals.)  But Hamas leaders do not hesitate to protect themselves. They take refuge in a vast web of underground tunnels and shelters reserved for their exclusive use. Gaza civilians are expendable. Urged to become targets, their dead bodies are garishly paraded in public to stoke the Hamas cause.

As rockets fall on Israel the world grants Hamas immunity for its war crimes. Blaming the Jewish targets of Palestinian terrorism has long been a popular international trope. As the commissioner general of UNRWA, which invents Palestinian “refugees” by the millions to stay in business, recently declared: “I urgently call on the Israeli Security Forces to put an end to attacks against, or endangering, civilians . . . which are contrary to international humanitarian law.” About Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians he had nothing to say.

Palestinian suffering inflicted by cruel Israelis is the preferred worldwide narrative. Where better than Frankfurt, as a recent protest demonstrated, for Israel to be equated with Nazi Germany? With the cease-fire proposed by Egypt evidently crumbling, and Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks resuming, the number of Palestinian martyrs is likely to increase. Nothing could make Hamas happier. Indeed, today’s death of four soccer-playing Palestinian boys in Gaza, struck by an Israeli missile, is certain to ratchet up rampage against Israeli retaliation for the unrelenting Hamas rocket attack.

Nobody summed up the situation more succinctly, and accurately, than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who told Fox News: “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using civilians to protect their missiles.”

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author, most recently, of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy (Quid Pro Books).

 

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Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls for ‘Immediate’ Suspension of UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness.

July 16, 2014 4:10 pm 12 comments

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Multimedia.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called for the “immediate” suspension of a UN spokesperson on Tuesday.

The move came as Israel is in the midst of a full-flung campaign against terror group Hamas to end rocket fire from nearby Gaza.

Prosor asked for action to be taken against Chris Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, after the spokesman encouraged reporters to interview a professor with a history of supporting terror attacks against civilians.

In a letter to Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Prosor said, “Gunness, yet again abused his position by calling on reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, an outspoken proponent of terrorist attacks against civilians. In September 2001, Dr. Gilbert explicitly supported the ‘moral right’ of Al-Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians.”

In the letter, seen by The Algemeiner, Prosor included the text of a recent Twitter post from Gunness encouraging reporters to speak to Gilbert: “Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert +4790878740 call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atoms RT.” The message has since been deleted.

“Rather than denouncing Hamas’s targeting of innocent civilians, Mr. Gunness is shamelessly promoting an individual who shares Hamas’s morally reprehensible convictions,” Prosor said in his letter. “Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, deliberately embeds its military operations in residential areas and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions constitute war crimes and should be condemned in no uncertain terms. In failing to do so, Mr. Gunness is ignoring Hamas’s abuse of the civilian population in Gaza and acting in opposition to UNRWA’s mandate.”

Prosor also accused Gunness of displaying “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias,” adding, “he has abused his position to promote incitement against Israel and present a one-sided view of reality.”

Prosor said that on Monday, after Hamas fired a rocket at an electrical plant in Ashkelon cutting off power to 70,000 Gazans, “Mr. Gunness tweeted that the lights had gone out, conveniently omitting Hamas’s responsibility.”

“Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement undermine this work. UNRWA staff members have repeatedly failed to abide by the UN’s principles of neutrality and impartiality,” Prosor said.

“I ask that you immediately suspend Mr. Gunness while you investigate the matter. The integrity and impartiality of the UN demands that this matter be addressed expediently.”

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